Can’t-Miss Symptoms of Tongue Cancer

Tongue cancer, also known as oral cavity cancer, begins in the cells of the tongue and can be triggered by tobacco use, alcohol abuse, and HPV infection, but what are its signs and symptoms?

From loose teeth to ear pain, there are plenty of symptoms of tongue cancer to look out for. Some might even surprise you, including…

1. Mouth Sores That Don’t Heal

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One of the earliest signs of tongue cancer is a sore that seems to not want to heal. If a couple of weeks pass without a ulcer healing, this is a serious sign of tongue cancer that should not be ignored.

Especially if the sore gets worse, visit your doctor immediately to assess the possibility of tongue cancer. These lesions can be painful and gradually become thicker, making it important to catch them early.

Along with these sores often comes pain within the mouth…

2. Mouth Pain

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If you’ve been feeling pain in your mouth that won’t go away, this can be a sign of tongue cancer. Typically, tongue cancer rarely causes pain in the early stages, making it extra important that you see your doctor if you’re experiencing oral pain.

Your mouth isn’t the only area that can experience pain with tongue cancer…

3. Ear Pain

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While this next symptom is rare, it’s important to look out for. The pain caused by tongue cancer may spread to the jaw and cheeks, causing a feeling of fullness in the ear. This is far from a pleasant feeling, making it crucial to get it checked out as soon as possible.

Tongue cancer can also make basic functions of the tongue difficult…

4. Difficulty Swallowing

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In tongue cancer, patients often experience dysphagia, meaning it becomes harder for your body to move food or liquid from your mouth to your stomach. Dysphagia is often linked to underlying diseases, such as tongue cancer. If you’ve recently had trouble swallowing, this is a sign of tongue cancer that you should bring up to your doctor.

This next symptom is one of the more serious signs of tongue cancer…

5. Loose Teeth

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Your childhood isn’t the only time you may experience loose teeth. In fact, tongue cancer patients can experience loose teeth in the later stages of cancer. This is a more unusual symptom, making it important that you have the condition investigated as soon as possible.

The next symptom of tongue cancer may come as a surprise to you…

6. Bad Breath

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If you’ve noticed that you’ve recently had persistent bad breath, you may need more than a breath mint. While persistent bad breath can be linked to numerous medical conditions, one of the possibilities is tongue cancer. Especially if your bad breath is combined with other symptoms, seek medical help for a potential diagnosis.

Tongue cancer can also cause noticeable symptoms in the jaw…

7. Swelling and Pain in the Jaw

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Jaw pain is can often be caused by the overlapping of tongue cancer and temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), or the imbalance of your jaw’s joints. While the pain can derive solely from tongue cancer, it’s one of the more rare symptoms. If you experience this symptom, be sure to see your doctor, as it can be a sign of both tongue cancer and TMJ.

The next sign of tongue cancer may cause you to think twice next time you have this symptom…

8. Sore Throat /

Along with difficulty swallowing, tongue cancer patients may also experience a sore throat. While this may just be a typical sore throat, it can also be a sign that tongue cancer has spread to the lymph nodes of the neck. Any cancer has the potential to spread to any other part of the body, making this a symptom that should not be ignored.

More often than not, tongue cancer can affect how you sound and not just how you feel…

9. Hoarse Voice /

A hoarse voice can be caused by a cold or sinus infection as well as using your voice too much, but it can also be triggered by more serious conditions, like tongue cancer. When tongue cancer spreads to your lymph nodes, it can cause hoarseness of a change in the voice.

If you notice hoarseness in your voice, see your healthcare provider right away, as tongue cancer can be found at a very early stage with this symptom.

The last sign of tongue cancer is one of the most common symptoms…

10. Bleeding in the Mouth

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Mouth bleeding can often be linked to tongue cancer, but you shouldn’t immediately assume the worst. Bleeding from the mouth can also be caused by brushing or flossing. Still, it’s important to take it seriously, especially if you notice you have other symptoms of tongue cancer.

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