How to Do a Self-Check for Oral Cancer

How to Do a Self-Check for Oral Cancer

HPV is one of the growing causes of oral cancer, proving anyone can develop it.

Like any major illness, if you’re worried you have cancer in your mouth you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Knowing how to spot the early signs of the disease though, is always a good skill to have.

According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, this year close to 49,750 Americans will be diagnosed with oral oropharyngeal cancer. It will cause over 9,750 deaths, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day.

What does it look like?

Oral cancer can develop on your lips, gums, tongue, the roof of your mouth, the floor, and on your cheeks.

Related: Broccoli May Help Reduce the Risk of Cancer When Prepared Like This

It can appear as red or white patches in your mouth, an abnormal thickening of your oral tissues, or a lump or mass in your neck.

If you smoke or use any type of tobacco, drink heavily, suffer from a weakened immune system, have human papillomavirus (HPV), or spend a lot of time in the sun exposing your lips to damaging rays, you have a higher risk of developing it.

Here’s how the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons suggest you perform a self-check:

  • Take out any dentures
  • Look and feel inside your lips and the front of your gums
  • Tilt your head back and inspect the roof of your mouth
  • Pull your cheek out to look at the inside surface and your gums
  • Examine your tongue, top and bottom
  • Feel your neck and lower jaw for lumps or enlarged lymph nodes on both sides.

Again, you’re looking for those unsightly red or white patches of skin, sores that don’t heal, a thickening of your tissues, jaw pain and lumps or masses on your neck.

For more information and photo examples, click here.

Photo credits: Lucky Business/

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