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Spot mouth cancer early

Watch our video to find out more about the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer, and why spotting mouth cancer early is important. 

At the bottom of the page, you can see the full-length video.

View a transcript of the full Spot mouth cancer early video.


"It’s a happy ending for me because I’m still here, and it’s all because I went and got [a lump in my neck] checked out. I would encourage anyone who thinks they might have something not quite right, to get it checked".

Mike Donoghue, mouth cancer survivor

Often, signs and symptoms of mouth cancer are not painful. The most common signs are:

  • an ulcer or sore in your mouth or on your tongue
  • a red or white patch in your mouth
  • an unexplained pain in your mouth or ear.

Other signs to look out for are:

  • an unexplained lump in your neck
  • a sore or painful throat
  • a croaky voice or difficulty swallowing.

If you notice any of these symptoms and they last for more than three weeks, ask your doctor or your dentist to have a look at your mouth. They might be able to reassure you, or they might send you along to the hospital to have something checked out.

The majority of the people who have something like this checked out don’t actually have mouth cancer. If you have any of the symptoms then see your doctor or dentist as soon as possible. It probably won’t be cancer, but it’s better to be on the safe side.


"Mouth cancer is on the increase, and as with most cancers, it's more common in the over-50s. It’s very important to spot mouth cancer early, primarily because if it’s caught early, we know that the treatments are very successful".

Dr Chris Steele, GP

Reducing your risk of mouth cancer

There’s a lot that you can do to reduce your risk of developing mouth cancer in the first place, including:

  • not smoking
  • drinking less alcohol
  • avoiding smokeless or chewing tobacco. This might be in the form of paan or gutka, a mixture of ingredients that often includes tobacco, betel leaf and areca nut.
  • eating a healthy diet, including five portions of fruit and vegetables each day

View a transcript of the full  Spot mouth cancer early video.

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Question about cancer? Contact our information nurse team
Updated: 25 September 2009