What Do The Early Stages Of Mouth Cancer Look Like?

What Do The Early Stages Of Mouth Cancer Look Like?

2021-04-13 0 By Karen Smith

Mouth cancer (oral cancer) refers to cancer that takes place in any part of the mouth. What do the early stages of mouth cancer look like? Oral cancers typically start with white or red patches in the mouth accompanied by pain. Richmond-based dentists from Riverlands Dental believe that cancers emerge due to the changes in the DNA in the cells. This mutation causes the cells in the mouth to develop in an abnormal way.



The tumor of mouth cancer can emerge in the outer and inner parts of the mouth, sometimes, it even occurs in the tongue. Below are the usual location of mouth cancers:

  • Lips
  • Tongue
  • Cheek linings
  • Under the tongue
  • Mouth roof
  • Gums

Mouth cancers also fall under the category of head and neck cancers, making their treatments quite similar.


Early Stages Of Mouth Cancer

sites of cancer in mouthIt’s not easy to determine if you have oral cancer, mainly because its location makes the symptoms seem like the cancer is just an ordinary dental problem. What do the early stages of mouth cancer look like? To help you detect if you are at risk of mouth cancer, refer to the list of cancer symptoms below for reference:

  • Red or white patches in the mouth.
  • An ulcer that does not seem to heal.
  • Bleeding in the affected area.
  • A lump in the oral cavity.
  • Pain or swelling in the mouth.
  • Ear pain
  • Difficulty moving the jaw
  • Trouble in biting, chewing, and eating
  • Loosening teeth
  • Dentures falling off
  • Unexpected weight loss

The early signs of mouth cancer do not typically show altogether. In most cases, only 3 to 4 cancer symptoms occur per person. However, for safety purposes, if you suspect that your signs and symptoms indicate mouth cancer, prioritize a visit to your dentist.



Oral cancer could occur due to several reasons which are as follows:

  1. Excessive use of tobacco, cigarettes, pipes, and the likes.
  2. Drinking alcohol heavily.
  3. Age. Older people are more at risk of oral cancer. However, children and teens could also experience it.
  4. Exposure to the sun. Being exposed to the sun all the time also increases the risk of mouth cancer.
  5. HPV (Human papillomavirus). The virus from HPV could also result in mouth cancer. HPV is often sexually transmitted and puts an individual at risk of many complications as well.
  6. Gender. According to studies, men are more at risk of mouth cancer than women.
  7. Sharp tooth. If the person has a sharp tooth, it could cause continuous irritation to the buccal mucosa and start a tumor.
  8. Poor oral care.
  9. Weak immunity.
  10. Genetics. Kids are more at risk of mouth cancer if their patients have previously gone through it.


Diagnosing Mouth Cancer

There are several ways to diagnose mouth cancer. After your dentist examines your mouth, tongue, gums, teeth, cheeks, and all parts of your mouth, he might recommend the following diagnostic procedures to confirm the presence of cancer.

Dental X-rays

Dentists use X-rays to diagnose different dental problems. It is commonly recommended to see the position of the teeth for correcting misalignments.


This procedure uses a tube attached to a small light and lens to see the inside of the mouth, nose, sinuses, and surrounding parts.


Scans are suggested to check the severity of the mouth cancer. It helps the doctor determine the exact location of the tumor as well as its size.


In a biopsy, the dentist will take a small amount of tissue from the suspected location of cancer. The sample will be sent to a laboratory for analysis.


Mouth Cancer Treatment

After the diagnostic procedures, the dentist will determine the best kind of cancer treatment for the patient. The dentist will choose the right treatment in consideration of the cancer’s location, stage, and extremity.

Listed below are the common treatments for mouth cancer:

  • Surgical treatment. For cancers that are just in the early stages, surgery is the most viable option to thoroughly prevent the spread of cancer. The lymph nodes and tissues around the affected area will also be removed for safety.
  • Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy relies on mediation to make the tumor smaller. Chemotherapy is commonly recommended before the surgical removal of the tumor to make the procedure less extensive.
  • Radiotherapy. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy are also combined in some cases. Both of these treatments aim to shrink the tumor and decrease its size.
  • Immunotherapy. This is a type of treatment that does not directly cure cancer. Instead, it enhances your immunity so your body can fight cancer cells on its own.

Unfortunately, some treatments may not work for an individual due to specific reasons. If cancer persists despite your dentist’s best efforts to cure it, then you may opt for the removal of the tumor through an operation.


Preventing Mouth Cancer

Sometimes, our lifestyle is the main reason why we experience diseases. Sadly, these health conditions even put our life at risk and end up being the death of us. To keep yourself and your family safe from mouth cancer, the Dental Studio’s team near Double Bay has listed a few tips:brushing teeth

  • Practise good, daily oral hygiene.
  • Quit smoking or don’t even start at all. After all, tobacco does not pose any benefits for our overall health.
  • Drink moderately. There is nothing wrong with drinking alcohol as long as it’s in moderation.
  • Exercise regularly and eat healthy meals. Be sure to add fruits and vegetables to your diet.
  • Protect yourself from the sun, if possible, wear sunblock or gears whenever you go out under the scorching sun.
  • Give your dentist a visit every six months.
  • Treat ordinary dental problems.