Oral Cancer Self-Screening: Why Everybody’s Doing It (Or Should Be)
Oral cancer has a bad reputation for being more deadly than some other forms of cancer that you hear of more commonly. We are here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. Oral cancer goes unnoticed, not because it is difficult to see or feel, but because the idea of regular oral cancer screenings (either at home or in our office) is rather new. It simply has not been on the public health radar until now.
That is why we want to get the word out, and we need your help! Examining the neck, throat and oral cavity is a relatively simple task when compared to other parts of the body such as internal organs. Early diagnosis leads to better prognosis!
We recommend that once a month, you give yourself the following exam. It should only take 2-3 minutes and could save your life, or the life of a loved one!
First, a word about the ever-changing mouth: We know that many patients avoid self-exams because the mouth is one area of the body that has constant change going on. For example, you may have a recent burn, bite or cold sore and probably don’t want to bother us every time you notice these things! That is why we offer this rule of thumb: any suspicious area that is not better after 14 days should be brought to our attention.
How to perform an Oral Cancer Self Exam:
- Use a mirror and a bright light.
- Remove dentures.
- Look and feel lips and front of gums. Grasp lips with your thumb and forefinger and feel for lumps.
- Tilt your head back and inspect the roof of your mouth
- Pull your cheek out to see the inside surface and gums in the rear.
- Pull out your tongue and look at all surfaces.
- Feel your neck and under the lower jaw for enlarged lymph nodes, swelling or lumps.
What are you looking for?
- White patches
- Red Patches
- Combination of red and white patches
- Abnormal lumps or thickening
- Chronic sore throat/hoarseness
- Difficulty chewing/swallowing
- Masses or lumps in the neck