What causes canker sores? How do they look? What’s the difference between a canker sore, and cancer?
Canker sores are painful lesions that form in the mouth. They usually appear on the inside of the cheeks or lips.
Canker sores can also appear on the base of the gums, and even on the tongue. Canker sores tend to be minor, and for the most part, completely harmless.
Mouth cancer, known as oral cancer, is a type of disease that forms inside the mouth.
Oral cancer can also develop inside the cheeks, on the tongue, and on the throat.
This is very concerning for anyone who has a sore in their mouth, as many people fear that it could be a form of mouth cancer.
In this article, we explain what a canker sore is, and what oral cancer is. We also explain the differences between canker sores and cancer.
If you notice a sore inside your mouth, please consult a doctor for professional, medical advice. So, what is a canker sore?
What Is A Canker Sore?
A canker sore is a type of sore which forms inside the mouth. A canker sore may appear on the cheeks, gums, lips, mouth, or tongue.
Canker sores are a type of ulcer. Canker sores tend to be small, and usually have an oval, or round shape.
The color of a canker sore may be yellow, gray, or white, and typically is red on the border of the canker.
Sometimes there is only one canker sore, but it is possible that canker sores can develop in a cluster.
Most canker sores will heal within one week, and will not leave any signs of scarring.
In certain cases, people can develop major canker sores. These are pretty rare.
This type of canker sore is much larger than the average canker sore. It will also take around two weeks to heal and can leave scarring.
What Is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is a type of mouth cancer. It is estimated that around 53,000 people in the US are diagnosed with oral cancer every year.
The good news is that if oral cancer is found early, the survival rate is 85%. The overall 5-year survival rate for people with oral or oropharyngeal cancer is 66%.
Plus, the medical screenings for oral cancer are non-invasive, quick, and easy.
In addition, oral cancer can affect the cheeks, tongue, lips, and throat. Oral cancer looks very different from canker sores.
Firstly, oral cancer is usually described as white, flat patches. Oral cancer can also be bright red, brown, or a mixture.
Oral cancer will not disappear. If someone notices a sore on their mouth, and it does not heal after 10-14 days, they need to schedule an emergency appointment with the dentist.
Not every sore that does not heal within 10 to 14 days is cancerous, but it’s much safer to check.
If the sore is cancerous, then early detection of cancer can be life-saving.
How To Tell The Difference Between Canker Sores And Mouth Cancer
Ultimately, a medicinal professional is the only person who is credible at diagnosing whether a sore is a canker sore, or whether it is a form of cancer.
However, there are a few differences between canker sores and mouth cancers.
The Time Frame
Firstly, canker sores will disappear within 10 to 14 days.
It’s very unlikely that canker sores will stay longer than that. It can happen with major canker sores, but it is uncommon.
Oral cancer will not go away without medicinal treatment.
Canker sores are flat, but they can have a depressed center. Canker sores are usually white, yellow, or gray.
Likewise, canker sores will typically be red on the border. Oral cancer is flat and looks like a patch.
It is either white, red, brown, or a mixture. Here are some images of oral cancer.
The pain of oral cancer often occurs when someone is swallowing, speaking, or chewing.
The pain of a canker sore is typically triggered by acidic food or acidic drink.
With that said, oral cancer is not immediately painful, whereas a canker sore might be painful.
This means that the measurement of pain is not really a good measurement of whether a sore is a cancer, or whether it’s a canker sore.
However, as stated above, most canker sores do not hurt when swallowing, speaking, or chewing.
Canker Sore Treatment
Most canker sores will heal naturally. Sometimes doctors will prescribe certain medicinal products to patients to aid the healing.
Mouthwashes that contain a steroid, or a painkiller, might be used. Tropical medications might also be used.
These medications will likely contain a steroid. There are also different types of oral medications that doctors can prescribe patients.
If you notice a sore in your mouth, make sure to see your doctor right away. You don’t want to wait any longer than necessary, as this can be dangerous.
In addition, if you notice a sore that doesn’t heal within 10 to 14 days, make sure to visit your dentist.
It’s important to get the sore examined as soon as possible and to seek treatment.