Mouth cancer: Having this feeling in your mouth could mean you are at risk

Mouth cancer can start in any part of the mouth including the lips, tongue, floor of the mouth, inside lining of the cheeks and on the lips, roof of the mouth, area behind the wisdom teeth and upper and lower gums. Mouth cancer has increased by 49 per cent in the last decade and by 135 per cent compared with 20 years’ ago. Last year, 2,722 Britons lost their life to mouth cancer and almost nine in ten British adults have now heard of mouth cancer. However, only eight per cent are confident about their knowledge of the disease. If you experience a numbing feeling in your mouth, it could be mouth cancer.

Mouth and throat cancers can trigger a number of symptoms including numbness in the mouth.

The numb feeling may be throughout the mouth and lip area, or in patchy areas. This happens when cancer cells cause nerve or blood vessel damage in the mouth.

If a person feels numbness in the mouth they may also experience a loss of sensation or feeling in the mouth.

It may also feel like a tingling or prickling feeling on the lips or inside of the mouth. The medical term for numbness or tingling anywhere in the body is parasthesia.

It usually involves pressure, irritation, over-excitement, or damage to the nerves.

Other symptoms of mouth cancer according to the NHS are changes in the voice or speech problems, pain or difficulty when swallowing, unexplained weight loss, teeth becoming loose for no obvious reason, difficulty moving the jaw and red or white patches on the lining of the mouth.

Cancer Research UK said on their website: “An abnormal looking patch could be a sign of cancer or precancerous changes.

“White patches are called leukoplakia and red patches are called erythroplakia. These patches are not cancer, but if left untreated they may lead to cancer.

“Red and white patches in the mouth can also be caused by a fungal infection called thrush.

“The white patches usually rub off, leaving a sore red patch underneath. If you have anti fungal treatment, and the patches go away, they are not related to cancer.”

It’s strongly recommended that you visit your GP or dentist if any of the above symptoms have lasted longer than three weeks


The ten-year survival rate of mouth cancer is between 19 per cent and 58 per cent, depending on where the cancer strikes and how early it is diagnosed.

Three in four Britons don’t know the major signs and symptoms for mouth cancer.

You should see your GP if the mouth numbness lasts longer than a couple of hours or continues on-and-off for several days.

The NHS added: “It’s strongly recommended that you visit your GP or dentist if any of the above symptoms have lasted longer than three weeks.

“It’s particularly important to seek medical advice if you drink or smoke regularly.”

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