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Signs and Symptoms

Knowing what to look for is equally important. The Mouth Cancer Foundation (MCF) has published the following list of signs and symptoms to look out for:-

• A sore or ulcer in the mouth that does not heal within three weeks.
• A lump or overgrowth of tissue anywhere in the mouth.
• A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, or lining of the mouth.
• Difficulty in swallowing.
• Difficulty in chewing or moving the jaw or tongue.
• Numbness of the tongue or other area of the mouth.
• A feeling that something is caught in the throat.
• A chronic sore throat or voice change (hoarseness) that persists more than six weeks, particularly smokers over 50 years old and heavy drinkers.
• Swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable.
• Neck swelling present for more than three weeks.
• Unexplained tooth mobility persisting for  more than three weeks – see a dentist urgently.
• Persistent nasal (especially unilateral)l nasal obstruction, particularly associated with mucus (clear, purulent or bloody) discharge causing difficulty breathing through nose.
• Unexplained persistent earache.

How to Self Screen

To mark the 10th anniversary of the MCF, Dr Dawn Harper of Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies has supported the launch of a simple head and neck cancer check which can be carried out by anyone at home, at any time, but ideally once per month. Click on this link to see Dr Dawn carrying out her own self check:-

When carrying out a self screen, make a note of anything unusual.  If you have recently had a cold, sore throat, ulcers or swollen glands, bitten your cheek or scolded yourself, these problems should resolve within 3 weeks.  If you have any concerns, please visit your dentist or doctor to see if you need specialist advice.