The most common symptom of oral cavity cancer is a persistent sore or lump on the lip or in the mouth, but there may also be pain and/or a lump in the neck. Other symptoms are a white or red patch on the gums, tongue or lining of the mouth, and unusual bleeding, pain or numbness in the mouth. Only a minority patients with oral lesions will have cancer, however. Some patients have difficulty in speaking or swallowing.
Glottic cancer has the most favourable prognosis of all forms of laryngeal cancer, as people tend to seek medical advice for chronic hoarseness, which is the most common early symptom. Other symptoms of laryngeal cancer may include pain or problems with swallowing (dysphagia). There can also be a lump in the neck, sore throat, earache, or a persistent cough.
The symptoms of cancer of the pharynx differ according to the type. For oropharynx, common symptoms are a persistent sore throat, a lump in the mouth or throat, and otalgia (pain in the ear). For hypopharynx, problems with swallowing and ear pain are common symptoms and hoarseness is not uncommon. Nasopharynx cancer is most likely to cause a lump in the neck, but may also cause nasal obstruction, deafness and post-nasal discharge.