The Big C or Cancer is one of the most dreaded words of the modern world. The fear, however, is not unfounded. As per the World Health Organization (WHO), it is the second largest cause of death all around the world.

Of the many types of cancers, one of the most common one is Oral Cancer and it ranks among the top three cancers in the country. In India, 20 per 100000 people are affected by oral cancer and men are twice more at risk than women.

It is most commonly defined as an uncontrollable growth of cells in oral cavity and it mostly affects the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses and pharynx.

Like all other types of cancer, oral cancer is also fairly curable if detected and treated at an early stage. Let us go through the signs and symptoms that should be a red flag to us for making that doctor’s appointment in the little black diary, for further diagnosis.

When to visit a doctor or a dentist?

We often ignore sores in the mouth that have been for a prolonged period, often choosing to take over the counter medication rather than visiting the doctor. For people who consume large amounts of alcohol and tobacco, this could be their undoing. Biannual dental checkups also help in early detection. A few signs and symptoms that should not be ignored are:-

  • A sore on lip or mouth that won’t heal.
  • A mass or a growth anywhere in the mouth.
  • Loose teeth.
  • Pain or difficulty in swallowing.
  • Trouble wearing dentures.
  • A lump in the neck or lining of the mouth.
  • A constant earache.
  • Sore throat.
  • Hoarse voice.
  • Patches on the lining of the mouth or tongue, usually red or white in color.
  • Jaw pain or stiffness.
  • Pain in the neck.

Having any of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have oral cancer, but it is worth getting it checked. After all, ‘It’s better to be safe than sorry!’

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