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Early Signs of Mouth Cancer from Chewing Tobacco

Chewing tobacco, a habit often dismissed as less harmful than smoking cigarettes, carries significant health risks, including an increased risk of mouth cancer. Recognizing the early signs of this disease can be crucial for timely intervention and treatment.


The Hidden Dangers of Chewing Tobacco

Chewing tobacco, also known as smokeless tobacco, is not a safe alternative to smoking. It contains at least 28 chemicals known to increase the risk of mouth cancer, throat cancer, and esophageal cancer. Nicotine, the addictive substance in tobacco, is present in high quantities, making it as addictive as smoking cigarettes.

Early Signs of Mouth Cancer

Early detection of mouth cancer significantly improves the chances of successful treatment. Here are some of the first signs that users of chewing tobacco should be vigilant about:

1. Sore Spots and Ulcers That Do Not Heal

One of the hallmark signs of mouth cancer is the presence of sore spots or ulcers in the mouth that do not heal within two weeks. These can be painless initially, which often leads to delays in seeking medical advice.

2. White or Red Patches Inside the Mouth

The appearance of white (leukoplakia) or red (erythroplakia) patches inside the mouth, on the gums, lining, or tongue, can be early indicators of precancerous conditions. While not all patches are cancerous, persistent ones should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.

3. Unexplained Bleeding or Numbness

Bleeding in the mouth without any obvious cause, or numbness in any area of the mouth, can be early signs of mouth cancer. Any unusual sensory changes, such as a persistent feeling of something stuck in the throat, should also prompt a dental or medical evaluation.

4. Lump or Thickening in the Cheek

A noticeable lump or thickening in the cheek that can be felt with the tongue or fingers may indicate mouth cancer. This symptom may be accompanied by difficulty in chewing or swallowing. 5. Persistent Sore Throat or Hoarseness A sore throat that persists for more than two weeks, or a change in voice such as hoarseness, may be signs of throat cancer, which can also be related to the use of chewing tobacco.

Prevention and Quitting

The best way to prevent mouth cancer is to avoid tobacco products altogether. If you're currently using chewing tobacco, consider seeking help to quit. Various resources and support systems are available, including counselling, medication, and nicotine replacement therapies. Quitting can reduce your risk of cancer and significantly improve your overall health.


While chewing tobacco may seem like a less dangerous alternative to smoking, it carries a significant risk of mouth cancer and other health issues. Recognizing the early signs of mouth cancer and seeking prompt medical advice can save lives. Prevention, through abstaining from tobacco products, remains the most effective strategy for reducing the risk of this serious disease. For comprehensive mouth cancer treatment in India, American Oncology Institute is recognized as the top multi-disciplinary oncology hospital known for its expertise and advanced care.