Early Signs of Head and Neck Cancers

May 12, 2023 by admin

As with most cancers, head and neck cancers are most easily treated if they are caught early. Happily, there are some early warning signs that can clue us in to the possibility that we may be dealing with a serious disease.

  1. A swelling, sore or lump in the mouth or neck could be an early sign of cancer. If persistent despite medications, some or all of it would need to be sampled and sent for testing in a laboratory. For neck lumps which we think are likely to be cancerous, we may do extensive testing first to see if there are associated growths.
  2. Recurrent bleeding from the mouth or nose, especially if coming from one side, may be originating from a cancer. Examination by a process called endoscopy will need to be performed to find the origin of the bleeding, and if necessary that area will need to be sampled.
  3. Unexplained persistent localized pain may be a manifestation of a cancer. Any such pain will need to be investigated, by examination, endoscopy, scanning or other means in an attempt to find the cause.
  4. Hearing loss or ear pain, especially if on one side may sometimes be the only indication of a serious problem. Earache can be caused by tumours in the throat, tongue, jaws, sinuses, and neck. One sided earache is a problem that must be properly checked out. I have diagnosed tongue cancers where the only symptom was earache.
  5. Hoarseness and voice change is an important symptom. It is the most common indication of a cancer in the larynx or voice box – the most frequently occurring head and neck cancer. All persons with persistent hoarseness for longer than two weeks need to have their vocal cords specifically visualized to check for this eminently treatable disease.
  6. Difficulty chewing, swallowing or breathing may indicate a serious problem. Visualizing the throat, usually with endoscopy, will be able to detect cancer if present.
  7. A persistent painless red or white patch in the mouth or throat can be an early developing cancer. Samples of these types of lesions may need to be taken for checking.

It must be emphasized that most persons with these symptoms, especially if they are present for a short time, will not have cancer. But it is imperative that when these symptoms are persistent, they should be carefully investigated by an appropriate health professional. He or she will, by examination, endoscopy, scanning and other tests as necessary, ensure that if a cancer is present, it will be found. At Rovier we have diagnosed and treated numerous head and neck cancers, and RSS is eminently equipped to treat them.


Rovier Surgical suites is a boutique medical facility that provides quality healthcare in a pleasant and comfortable atmosphere. Our team of qualified physicians and nurses, ensure that you get the best care and have a smooth and restful recovery.

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