Skip to main content

Common Symptoms of Oral Cancer To Watch For

Thousands of Americans are diagnosed each year with oral cancer, yet few patients are familiar with the common signs, symptoms, and preventative measures that should be taken. When diagnosed early, the prognosis of oral cancers improves significantly, so early detection is essential. 

Keep yourself informed with the facts and symptoms of oral cancer to keep you or someone you love from being claimed by the disease. 

Mouth Sores

Cancerous mouth sores and abnormal growths differ from other common sorest that can form in and around the mouth. Mouth sores caused by oral cancer differ from a canker sore or cold sore because they do not go away with time. 


Bleeding gums are often thought of as a signal of periodontal disease. Unexplained bleeding in the mouth can also be a common symptom of certain types of oral cancers. Experiencing any abnormal or excessive bleeding of the gums should always be discussed with your dentist to monitor the situation closely. 


A loss of feeling in the mouth, face, or neck area can all be indications of severe health issues. A sensation of numbness is a common sign of oral cancer. Persistent pain or tenderness in these areas should be discussed with your dentist or doctor as soon as possible to rule out oral cancer as a cause. 

Difficulty Swallowing

Difficulty in swallowing food can be a sign of oral cancer. Additionally, experiencing difficulties when talking or moving your tongue can also be indications of cancer that should be discussed and examined by a professional.

Sore Throat

Experiencing chronic sore throat, in addition to persistent hoarseness or a sudden change in the sound of your voice, should be a cause for concern. While anyone can experience a sore throat from time to time, it should not be a persistent thing. Having an exam performed by your healthcare provider can help to rule out any significant health risks. 

Red or White Patches 

Growths and sores are not the only abnormalities you should be checking for inside your mouth. Red or white patches can also be an indication of oral cancer. Your dentist should examine any dry or rough areas inside the mouth, on the lips, or the gums at your routine exams. 

What To Expect From an Oral Cancer Exam

An oral cancer exam is performed at your regular dental check-up. This quick and easy exam only takes a few minutes and can provide some early warning signs of oral cancer. 

Here's what you can expect:

If You Have Any Concerns About Oral Cancer Symptoms 

While anyone can get oral cancer, specific individuals are more at risk. Some of the most common risk factors that increase your chances of developing oral cancer are those who smoke, use tobacco products, drink alcohol in excess, have excessive sun exposure, or have a family history of cancers. 

Tompkins Dental has the VELscope Vx®, an advanced oral assessment system that reveals abnormal cells at risk for becoming cancerous. With early identification, you can take action and avoid oral cancer.

If you are concerned about oral cancer symptoms or have not been screened for signs and symptoms, contact Tompkins Dental today to schedule an oral cancer screening. 

You Might Also Enjoy...

Man looking at bleeding gums.

What To Do If Your Gums Bleed

While it is typically not considered a dental emergency, bleeding gums can indicate an underlying problem that requires attention.
Model of tooth with saving money.

Budget-Friendly Oral Health Care Tips

When money feels tight, prioritizing your teeth and gums can seem difficult. But it's important to remember that neglecting oral health can lead to disastrous – and often expensive – consequences in the long run.
Calcium-rich dairy-free foods for healthy teeth.

Dairy-Free Dental Health

Many people have dietary restrictions that prohibit dairy use. If that’s you, don’t worry; there are still foods you can choose to promote a healthy smile!