Canker Sore Vs Cancer – What Does This Growth Indicate?

One day, you may notice an unusual change inside your mouth, white centered circular ulceration, and it could be a canker sore. It often gets confusing between cancer and this oral issue. Having a foreign matter growth inside your mouth is scary; that is why you need to understand more about canker sore vs oral cancer; so that you know when to ask for medical intervention. It is essential that you visit a dentist after detecting a sore or mass in the mouth since it is difficult to determine whether your oral condition is harmless.

A canker sore may appear on the tonsils, the tongue, or your throat’s back – uvula. Many people get nervous when they see ulceration growth in the oral cavity; is it a canker sore or mouth cancer? Well, this blog may clear the air a bit and serve as an initial guide. We have discussed “canker sore vs cancer” for your ease and primitive identification.

What Are Canker Sores?

Canker sores are categorized in 2; minor and major severity wise. A minor canker sore is a tiny, round-shaped ulceration that is usually seen on the lips, cheeks, tongue surface, back of the throat – your uvula, or base of the gums.

Mostly, minor small in size ulcers go away on their own in a time period that varies around 1 to 2 weeks. However, you may still suffer from a large sore that doesn’t heal easily and stays for a couple of months.

Minor sores are generally harmless and cause nothing more than slight discomfort and pain. There are various triggers that can result in canker sore development; that includes hormonal shifting, stress, particular toothpaste usage, and food allergies.

Canker sores that are bigger than half an inch belong in the major category; they typically last for more than two weeks. Unlike minor ones that are circular, major sores are irregular, asymmetrical with odd borders; they may also leave a mark behind after healing.

Their occurrence is common amongst people who are immunosuppressed because of health conditions such as HIV or undergoing chemotherapy.

What is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer vs a canker sore can emerge anywhere inside your mouth cavity; researchers conclude that individuals who use tobacco or drink alcohol are prone to mouth cancer and other related problems. Oral cancer usually affects the tongue, throat, lips, or even cheeks.

Notable signs for identifying oral cancer:

  • Bumps, swelling, spotting, or layers on the cheek, lips, or anywhere inside the mouth.
  • Cancer vs canker sore appears in white or red patchwork in the oral cavity.
  • Persistent mouth injuries that do not resolve within 14 days.
  • Irritation and mood disturbances.
  • Swallowing, talking, and jaw moving difficulties.
  • Fast unexplained weight loss
  • Vocal changes, the voice becomes hoarse.
  • Ear pain

Usually, cancer shows up as flat, red, or white patches. If you feel that the canker sore is not healing even after 14 days gradually, it may indicate mouth cancer. So let your dentist check persistent signs and symptoms and determine the actual cause. When it comes to cancer, early detection is beneficial since it increases the chances of treatment success.

Cancer vs Canker Sore

Canker sore and oral cancer are 2 separate conditions with their own set of distinguishing characters; here are some for your ease:

  • A canker sore usually heals easily within a span of 7-14 days; on the other hand, oral cancer does not resolve within the same time, even with treatment.
  • Usually, the cancer growth is often painless; if we talk about a canker sore, it does cause mild to moderate discomfort.
  • A canker sore has a flat, yellow, or white center that goes gray when they start on with the healing process. On the other hand, oral cancer bumps look like raised or sometimes even flat patches; they may be white, brown, or red.
  • Canker sores result in pain when you have acidic content drinks. But, this discomfort doesn’t hamper speaking, chewing, or swallowing as oral cancer bumps do.
  • Oral Cancer Screening is essential in the identification process of “Oral cancer vs canker Sore.”

Treatment Options for Canker Sore

Nutritional Deficiencies
People suffering from malnutrition with iron vitamin B-12 or folic acid deficiencies mostly suffer from persistent canker sore growth. Adding external supplements for aiding a healthy body will definitely result in the reduction of canker sore appearance.

Medications – Antivirals or Antibiotics
Immunosuppressed patients are prone to infections via viruses and bacteria. In such cases, it is essential that you take appropriate medicines for targeting the root cause. Canker sore that is treated orally in case of a viral infection is via valacyclovir and common antibiotic doxycycline.

Oral cancer bumps or canker sore both cause discomfort and pain, and in such cases, NSAIDs work well for relieving pain providing relief.

Oral Cancer Treatment

Surgical Retreat
Your healthcare provider will check whether the cancerous cells have spread or are they localized. In some instances taking the localized growth out is the best option.

Radiation or Chemotherapy
When the oral disease progresses, a combination of radiation and chemotherapy is opted as the treatment plan.


Oral cancers are very common in the United States. Luckily, the survival rate is reasonably high, typically ranging from 85 to 90 percent. However, early diagnosis is crucial. Therefore, if you notice even the slightest of change, be it a canker sore growth or any lesion that doesn’t resolve on its own within a few days, don’t hesitate to contact our dentist in San Diego at Nimmi Shine Dental. Call us at 858 999 8550 to schedule an appointment. Your oral health is our priority.

Dr. Joseph Mara

Dr. Joseph Mara

For more than 19 years, Dr. Joseph Mara has been a leading dentist in San Diego, providing affordable, gentle, and honest dental care. Driven by a commitment to patient’s trust and satisfaction, he undergoes continuous education and specialized training in oral implantology and endodontics. At his practice – Nimmi Shine Dental, convenience and comfort are paramount. Utilizing advanced technology such as the Vatech PaX-i3D Scanner and Computer Guided Implant Surgery, the clinic emphasizes efficiency and overall patient well-being. Call us today at (858) 999-8550 to schedule a consultation with our expert dentist.


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