Sore throat that won’t seem to budge? It could be an early sign of this cancer

Tongue cancer and other oral cancers are considered relatively rare. 

According to the NHS, around 6,800 people are diagnosed with oral cancer each year in the UK, which is about 2 per cent of all cancers diagnosed. 

It may be the sixth most common cancer in the world – much less common in the UK – but its symptoms should not be overlooked. 

A sore throat or tongue ulcer are common and can usually be managed at home. 

But a sore throat that just won’t budge or an ulcer or lump on the tongue which won’t seem to go away can be signs of tongue cancer. 

There are two parts of the tongue, and cancer can develop in both parts – the oral tongue and the base of the tongue. 

The oral part of the tongue is the part you see when you stick your tongue out and the base if the back third of the tongue. 

Cancer Research UK outlines the different symptoms of tongue cancer you should watch out for: 

  • A red or white patch on the tongue that won’t go away 
  • A sore throat that doesn’t go away 
  • A sore spot (ulcer) or lump on the tongue that doesn’t go away 
  • Pain when swallowing 
  • Numbness in the mouth that won’t go away 
  • Unexplained bleeding from the tongue (that’s not caused by biting your tongue or other injury)
  • Pain in the ear (but this is rare)

The cancer charity adds: “It’s important to remember that these symptoms might be due to a less serious medical condition. But it’s best to check symptoms with your GP just to make sure.” 

The NHS outlines the three most effective ways of preventing mouth cancer developing, or preventing coming back after successful treatment: 

  • Not smoking 
  • Ensuring you don’t drink more than the recommended weekly limits for alcohol 
  • Eating a healthy Mediterranean-style diet that includes plenty of fresh vegetables – particularly tomatoes – and citrus fruits, olive oil and fish

It’s also important you have regular dental check-ups as dentists can often spot the early stages of mouth cancer. 

Severe pain in your back or side can be linked to a number of things, but it’s also an advanced symptom of cervical cancer. 

The most common sign of cervical cancer, according to the NHS, is vaginal bleeding, which can occur after having sex, in between periods or after the menopause. 

But the NHS states: “If the cancer spreads out of your cervix and into surrounding tissue and organs, it can trigger a range of other symptoms.”