The early signs of mouth and throat cancers are similar. They include a chronic sore throat, trouble swallowing, troubled or noisy breathing, pain in the ear, a feeling that the throat is obstructed, and a change of voice or difficulty speaking. As mentioned earlier, these symptoms are often misdiagnosed for more common, non-cancer ailments.
Symptoms of mouth cancer may also include a lump on the lip or in the mouth, sores that won’t heal, swelling of the jaw, or difficulty chewing and swallowing. Onset of this cancer may be preceded by leukoplakia, a condition marked by a white patch inside the mouth or throat, or erythroplakia, a similar condition marked with red, raised patches. Tobacco and alcohol abuses are known to cause both conditions. While neither leads to cancer 100% of the time, there is sufficient correlation between these conditions and cancer to warrant an examination for pre-cancerous cells should leukoplakia or erythroplakia be detected.
You should consult a physician if you are concerned about any of these symptoms, and particularly if you detect a persistent lump on the lip, in the mouth or throat. A biopsy or other diagnostic tests are often required to determine whether a lump is benign or malignant. The nature of the lump is one factor in determining an appropriate course of action.