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Mouth cancer Signs and Symptoms

Mouth cancer may develop in any part of the mouth or oral cavity. It can occur on lips, tongue, gums, lining of cheeks, under the tongue or roof of the mouth. Cancer occurring within the mouth is also called oral cavity cancer.

Mouth cancer has been categorized into the group of  head and neck cancers. This is because all these types of cancers are quite similar and the method of treatment is also the same. Here, we will discuss the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer.

1. Red or white patches inside your mouth

Usually, the flat squamous cells cover the surface of your mouth and tongue. A patch of red or white patches aligning your tongue, mouth lining, gums, or tonsils are the early signs of squamous cell carcinoma.

Red patches: the presence of red patched in your mouth that appear velvety are termed erythroplakia, and are often precancerous. In about 75% to 90% of cases, erythroplakia are observed to be cancerous. So, don’t ignore these spots.

White patches: The whitish and grayish patches in your mouth or on lips are termed leukoplakia. Such cell overgrowth is caused by broken denture, rough tooth, or tobacco use.

2. Mixed white and red patches

A combination of both mixtures of white and red patches in your mouth are known as erythroleukoplakia, which is an abnormal cell growth that is likely to be cancerous. If these patches last for more than two weeks, you must see your doctor immediately for diagnosis.

Workers that remain exposed to certain chemicals or toxic substances in their work environment may develop such patches that can become malignant. These patches are hard and rough and also hard to scrape off.

3. Sores on tongue

Erythroplakia can occur anywhere in your mouth, however, it usually occurs in the floor of your mouth beneath your tongue or gums, behind your teeth. You must check your mouth carefully for any signs of these abnormalities and avail advance mouth cancer treatment from specialist.


4. Canker sores: Painful, but not dangerous

These are abnormal cell growths that appear like an ulcer but are not malignant. Although these sores don’t become cancerous, but cannot be taken lightly. If these sores persist or reappear in your mouth for more than two weeks, you need to get it immediately diagnosed by your doctor.

5. Other basic signs and symptoms:

  • Difficulty or pain when swallowing (this condition is called dysphagia)
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Persistent earache
  • The problem in speaking or changes in the voice
  • Numbness or bleeding in the mouth
  • Teeth become loose for no reason and a hurt tooth socket that doesn’t heal
  • Mouth ulcers that persist for several months
  • A lump in any part of the mouth that does not heal
  • A profound looseness found in the teeth or sockets with no plausible reason
  • Appearance of white or red patches on tongue or other parts of the mouth

These are some of the rare cancerous symptoms; however, these must not be avoided because sometimes these signs may lead to cancer. And if you find any above mentioned symptoms, then consult your doctor for mouth cancer treatment.

Causes of mouth cancer

The actual cause of oral cancer is not known yet, but there are various lifestyle factors that may put people at the risk of developing mouth cancer. Using tobacco in form of cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, pipes, and cigars can increase your risk of developing mouth cancer.

According to the Mouth Cancer Foundation study, about 90% of oral cancer develops due to the use of tobacco. Heavy use of tobacco and alcohol is the major cause that increases the risk of cancer in people. Read some amazing tips to Diagnose Your Family From Mouth Cancer with Advance Treatment

Besides tobacco and alcohol consumption, certain eating habits and increasing age can also influence the risk of mouth. Most mouth cancers occur in individuals above 40 years of age. It is also likely to develop in people whose diet is deficient in vegetables and fruits, making it easier to contract cancer in the mouth. Even sun exposure may cause lip cancer. The mouth cancer is also associated with human papillomavirus (HPV 16), which is one of the sexually transmitted human viruses.


Mouth cancer develops due to excessive cell growth and mutations of cells on lips or inside the mouth. DNA of the cells contains instructions telling cells what to do. But with changes or cell mutations, cells continue to grow while dividing and killing healthy cells. The growing cells accumulate abnormal cancer cells in the mouth, forming a tumor. These cells can also spread to another area like the neck, head or other body parts.

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Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Center or RGCIRC is the largest tertiary healthcare centre in Asia. Since our inception in 1996 in New Delhi, India, we have helped patients from across the sub-continent, SAARC countries and other places for diagnosis and treatment of all types of cancers. We bring cutting-edge technology while offering super specialised care in Medical. Surgical and Robotic oncology. Our alliances with internationally renowned institutes have helped us become pioneers in new approaches to treating cancer.

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