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Mouth and Throat Tumors

Finding out you have a tumor is scary. You may wonder what effect it will have on your life. As you and your doctors decide on your treatment, some of your concerns will be resolved. And, moving forward, your health care team can help you learn ways to help yourself.

What is a tumor?

A tumor is a mass of abnormal cells. It is either benign (slow growing, not cancerous) or malignant (fast growing, cancerous). Some tumors, especially cancerous ones, can be life-threatening. But most tumors can be treated.

Risk factors for a cancerous tumor

You are more likely to get a tumor of the mouth or throat if you:

  • Smoke cigarettes, pipes, or cigars

  • Use chewing tobacco or snuff

  • Drink alcohol

  • Take poor care of your teeth

  • Have poor-fitting dentures that irritate your mouth

  • Are exposed to certain industrial chemicals

  • Had a mouth or throat tumor in the past

  • Have a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection

Signs and symptoms of a tumor in the mouth

If you have a mouth tumor, you or your doctor may have noticed one or more of the following:

  • White or red patches on tissues or gums

  • Pain that doesn’t go away

  • A sore that doesn’t heal in a week or two

  • Bleeding that doesn’t stop after a few days

  • A swelling or lump that doesn’t go away

  • Problems with your teeth, dentures, or chewing

Signs and symptoms of a tumor in the throat

If you have a throat tumor, you or your doctor may have noticed one or more of the following:

  • Hoarseness that doesn’t go away

  • Trouble swallowing

  • A lump in your neck

  • Pain that doesn’t go away

  • Aching, pain, or pressure in your ear

  • Persistent coughing with or without bloody sputum


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