Oral Cancer Symptoms & Prevention

More than 91,000 people in the U.S. are living with this silent killer. Know the warning signs before it’s too late.


Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is a serious disease

It’s not one of the most talked-about diseases in the media, but the National Institutes of Health estimates that oral cancer kills 8,000 people in the U.S. every year. And nearly 40,000 new cases are reported annually.

Sadly, many of these deaths could have been prevented with early detection through routine dental care.

Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself and your family against one of America’s leading causes of death.


Preventing oral cancer

Oral cancer is known as a silent disease, but you can reduce your risk when you:

  • Get routine dentist checkups: Your dentist will check for signs of oral cancer at each visit. Remember, the key is early detection!
  • Avoid tobacco products: Smokers are six times more likely to develop oral cancer than nonsmokers.
  • Perform self-checks: Using a mirror, examine your mouth regularly for signs and symptoms of oral cancer.


Symptoms of oral cancer

Quick Facts: Oral Cancer

  • Men are more likely to develop oral cancer than women
  • African-American men at slightly higher risk than Caucasian men
  • Survival rate for early oral cancer diagnosis: 75%; 20% if diagnosed late.

Talk to your dentist immediately if you notice any of these symptoms. Prevention is your key to a healthy smile!

  • A sore that bleeds and doesn't heal
  • Color changes in your mouth
  • Pain, tenderness or numbness in the mouth or on the tongue
  • Difficulty  chewing, speaking, swallowing or moving the jaw or tongue
  • A lump inside the cheek
  • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil or lining of the mouth
  • Swelling of the jaw
  • Tooth and/or jaw pain or loose teeth
  • Voice change
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • A lump or mass in your neck


Get more expert oral health advice:

Find easy ways to stop chronic bad breath for good

Why stress can be such a grind on your teeth

Ahhhhhhhh! Getting relief for teeth sensitive to hot and cold foods