Oral Cancer Monthly Self Exam

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Amanda Orvis RDH

The prevalence of oral cancer is on the rise; in fact one person dies per hour from oral cancer. In the early stages oral cancer can often times go unnoticed. It can be painless and not obvious to the naked eye. The most common areas for oral cancer are the floor of the mouth & sides of the tongue. That being said, oral cancer can be found in various locations as well as a variety of shapes, colors and sizes. It is important that you perform monthly oral self-exams. If you notice any suspicious areas that do not go away within seven to fourteen days make an appointment with your dentist to have them checked. Remember early detection saves lives.

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How to perform a monthly self-exam:

Supplies: Flash light and a mirror

Steps:

  • Take a moment to look at the skin on your face and neck in the mirror. Look for any changes in the color of your skin, any changes in moles or beauty marks, any swelling, lumps or sores.
  • Use both hands to gently feel along the outside of your cheeks, your lower jaw bone, your jaw joint, in front of and behind both ears. Checking for any areas that do not feel uniform on both sides, any lumps and/or any areas that are swollen or tender.
  • Gently use both hands to feel down the sides of your neck, follow the path along the neck muscles. Gently place your fingertips around your “Adam’s Apple” and swallow. Try to notice if it moves up and down normally or if there is any deviation.
  • Gently use both hands to feel the tissue above and around your clavicles for any swollen or tender areas, or areas that do not feel uniform on both sides.
  • Remove any removable dentures or appliances from your mouth.
  • Use the flashlight to check the roof of your mouth for changes in color or texture. Use your index finger to lightly sweep the roof of your mouth to feel for any lumps or swellings.
  • Pull out your upper lip and then your lower lip looking for any changes in color, size and/or texture. Gently squeeze each lip and cheek with your thumb and index finger feeling for any lumps or tender areas.
  • Using your fingers gently pull your tongue forward and check the back of your throat. Also check all the surfaces of the tongue and the floor of your mouth looking for any changes in color, size and/or texture in the tissue.
  • Lift your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Using both of your index fingers gently place one index finger on the floor of your mouth and the other index finger under your chin and press your fingers towards each other feeling for any swellings or tenderness along the floor of the mouth.
  • Look at your gums for any change in color and/or texture. Run a finger around all the surfaces of your gums feeling for any swollen or tender areas. \

What to look for specifically:

  • White patches
  • Red patches
  • Sores that fail to heal
  • Lumps, bumps or masses
  • Any areas that are differ from one side to another

 

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 Want to learn more? Visit us at http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

 

Sources:

http://myoms.org/procedures/head-neck-and-oral-cancer

http://fightoralcancer.org/information/images/

http://www.sixstepscreening.org/wp-content/uploads/SixStepScreening.pdf

http://oralcancerfoundation.org/

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