Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of head and neck cancer can vary, and often be subtle.

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If symptoms persist for more than THREE weeks please see your GP or in the case of unusual patches or ulcers in your mouth consult your dentist without delay.

People with head and neck cancer often experience the following symptoms or signs. Sometimes, people with head and neck cancer do not have any of these changes. Or, the cause of a symptom may be a different medical condition that is not cancer.

  • Swelling or a sore in the mouth that does not heal; this is the most common symptom
  • Red or white patch in the mouth
  • Lump, bump, or mass in the head or neck area, with or without pain
  • Persistent sore throat
  • Foul smelling breath
  • Hoarseness or change in voice
  • Nasal obstruction or persistent nasal congestion
  • Frequent nose bleeds and/or unusual nasal discharge
  • Difficulty breathing and/or noisy breathing
  • Double vision
  • Persistent ear pain
  • Numbness or weakness of a body part in the head and neck region
  • Pain or difficulty chewing, swallowing, or moving the jaw or tongue
  • Pain and/or swelling around the eyes
  • Jaw pain
  • blocked nose on one side
  • Pain and/or swelling around the cheek
  • Pain and/or swelling in front or behind the ear or under the jawbone
  • Painless neck lumps.  If cancer spreads then the first place it will usually spread is to the lymph nodes in the neck which may show as painless neck lump(s). These lumps may simply be enlarged lymph nodes but if they do not clear within two weeks please see your GP without delay
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Face drooping on one side (facial palsy)
  • Numbness of the cheek, upper lip, upper teeth or side of the nose

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Oracle Cancer Trust is a registered charity in England and Wales (1142037). A company limited by guarantee. Registered company in England and Wales (7125497). Registered address: 80 Coombe Road, New Malden KT3 4QS