How do you know if you have mouth cancer?

Superdad asked...

How do you know if you have mouth cancer?

Expert Answer

Jessica J. Krant, MD, MPH, is a board-certified dermatologist specializing in medical, cosmetic, and surgical dermatology, including Mohs micrographic skin cancer surgery. In addition to her work in private practice, Krant is assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

Mouth cancer can happen to anyone, not just smokers and former smokers, though the risk in that group is increased.

Any scaly patch, dry patch, bump, ulceration, new growth, spot, bleeding area, canker sore that does not heal, or other new lesion anywhere on the lips, inside the lips or cheeks, or on the gums, tongue, under the tongue, or in the back of the throat that lasts more than one week, should be checked out right away by a board-certified dermatologist, oral surgeon, or ENT specialist.

Most of the time, there will be an explanation that is not related to cancer, but oral cancer is a very bad disease that can lead to disfiguring surgery if curable, and worse, if not, so it is worth pursuing early just to make sure everything is ok.