Oral Cancer Self Exam

The AAOMS (American Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons) tells patients to perform an oral cancer self-examination if any of the following symptoms are present:

  • difficulty in chewing or swallowing.
  • a chronic sore throat or hoarse voice that does not heal.
  • red patches in the mouth or on the tongue.
  • white patches in the mouth or tongue.
  • a lump or overgrowth of tissue anywhere in the mouth.

In order to complete a self examination for oral cancer, the AAOMS also recommends that one use a bright light and mirror to perform the following:

  • Look inside the lips. Feel the tissue surfaces around the lips and cheeks.
  • Look at the gums from the front and using the small mirror, look at the tongue side through another mirror, to view the inner gums. * By lifting your head back, look at the roof of your mouth and feel with your forefinger if any bumps or growths are present. Also note if any color changes are evident.
  • Take a gauze or tissue and gently pull your tongue out slowly. View all surfaces, top, bottom, sides, to see if any color changes or if any red or white lesions are present. Also note if any other abnormal changes are present, or if any wound takes too long to heal.
  • Feel for lumps in the neck and lower jaw region, on both sides.
selfexam-1Neck (head back): With your head tilted back, look for masses or lumps. Neck (head upright): With your head upright, try to feel both sides of your neck and under your jaw.
selfexam-3Lips: Feel the inside and outside of your lip, using your thumb and forefinger. Also look carefully as you do this. Gums: With your lips pulled away, examine all the gums
selfexam-5Cheeks: Use your thumb and forefinger to pull your cheeks away from your teeth. selfexam-6Palate: Open wide to see the back and roof of your mouth.
selfexam-7Tongue: Grab the end of your tongue with a tissue or gauze. Pull your tongue out, right, and left, and examine each surface. selfexam-8Tongue (upward): Raise the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Check the floor of your mouth and under your tongue.

Always visit the dentist on a regular basis. We will perform an oral cancer screening for you. If you notice any abnormal problems or if you are not sure, visit the dentist at once. Early detection is the key factor in treatment success.