oral cancer self screening -- woman smiling into the mirror

How to Perform an Oral Cancer Self Screening

Chances are good you have heard about self screenings for breast cancer and skin cancer. But did you know you can also perform an oral cancer self screening at home? All it takes is just a few minutes of your time to try these easy-to-follow tips from your friendly dentists at Mettler and Griego Family Dentistry. 

Why should I do oral cancer self screenings? 

Oral cancer is a deadly disease, and it’s more common than you might realize. According to the Mouth Cancer Foundation, oral cancer (or mouth cancer) affects about 650,000 people around the world each year. And over 2,700 people die each year from mouth cancer. 

Oral cancer may appear in any area of the mouth, including: 

  • In the gums or cheeks
  • Under the tongue or at the base of the tongue
  • At the back of the throat
  • In the roof of the mouth
  • On the lips
  • In the sinuses

Mouth cancer usually appears visually as a sore or growth in one of these areas. Other symptoms of oral cancer include: 

  • White or red patches in the mouth
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
  • Numbness in or around the mouth, face, or neck
  • Jaw pain and/or difficulty chewing, swallowing, or speaking
  • Sore throat
  • Sudden change in the way your dentures fit

If you’re at risk for oral cancer, you should perform regular self-screenings. The main risk factors for mouth cancer are: 

How do I perform an oral cancer screening at home? 

It’s always good to keep an eye on your oral health so you can let us know if you spot any changes or potential issues. Performing an oral cancer self-screening at home is easy and only takes a few moments. 

All you need for an oral cancer self screening are:

  • Clean fingers
  • A mirror
  • A good light source

Step 1: Examine Your Face

Temporarily take out any removable oral appliances you usually wear, like Invisalign trays or dentures. Look at your face in a well-lit mirror. Do you notice any differences in how your face looks—any bumps or moles? And what about your lips? Do they look normal, or do they have any strange patches? Make sure to roll down your bottom lip and roll up your upper lip to check the inner lip areas as well. 

Step 2: Examine Your Neck

Next, use your fingers to examine the front and sides of your neck. Look for any swellings or enlarged lymph nodes. Also, check for any suspect moles or other growths. 

Step 3: Examine Your Cheeks and Gums

Now move to the inside of your mouth. Gently pull your mouth open so you can see the inside of your cheeks. Check them for any discoloration or patches. Run your finger along the inside of your cheeks, around your gums, and along both the base and roof of your mouth to check for any bumps, rough patches, or sensitive areas. 

Step 4: Examine Your Tongue

Stick your tongue out and use your fingers to gently move it around so you can check all of its surfaces in the mirror. Don’t forget to check underneath the tongue, too. Keep an eye out for any signs of swelling or discolored spots. 

Oral Cancer Prevention in Glendale, Arizona

Although no one wants to think about the “C” word, the good news is that oral cancer is treatable when it’s caught early on. Taking a few moments every month to perform an oral cancer self screening at home can help you notify your doctor and your dentist about any potential issues. Prompt treatment can equal a better outcome! 

If you suspect you may have oral cancer or would like more tips for oral cancer screenings at home, call Mettler and Griego Family Dentistry today at 623-526-1154

Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV from Pexels