How to Perform a Self-Exam to Look for Oral Cancer
Posted on 12/20/2018 by Andrew Zeiger
One of our primary objectives in seeing our patients twice a year for regular cleanings is to screen for oral cancer. However, we see you as a partner in your health, and you should do self-exams for oral cancer regularly because in some instances the symptoms are not even apparent to the trained eye of our doctors.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
These are some of the most common symptoms of oral cancer:
Persistent mouth sores or lesions that don't go away in two weeks.
A recurrent sore throat or hoarseness.
A lump in the neck.
How to Do a Self-Exam for Oral Cancer
Oral cancer can appear in any area of the mouth. To prevent the disease from spreading and catching it early, you must do self-exams at home. Here's how to do it.
The Tongue - stick your tongue out as far as you can and look at the sides, top and under it for sores or white and red patches. The tongue is where most oral cancers begin on non-smokers.
The Tonsils - while you have your mouth open big, say ah and check your tonsils. Always look for red or white spots and anything that looks unusual by pressing down on the tongue as much as you can tolerate using good lighting.
The Lips and Cheeks - using your fingers feel the inside of your lips and cheeks. Look for unusual bumps, lumps, and white or red patches. Keep an eye on those for the next couple of weeks.
The Floor of the Mouth - again probe with your fingers looking for lumps and white or red patches.
The Palate - repeat the same procedure for the roof of the mouth and look for soft tissue. The palate should be hard.
The Neck - feel the entire neck and look for lumps and enlarged lymph nodes which could indicate a problem. You should be concerned if there is no pain to the touch.
We will also examine you thoroughly for oral cancer when you come in for your regular checkups and can show you how to do a self-exam properly if you are interested.
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