Oral Cancer, which includes cancers of tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses is a life threatening disease if not detected early.
As November is the Oral Cancer awareness month, we would like to raise awareness of signs, symptoms and causes of mouth cancer in order to prevent it and save lives.
Here are some symptoms you should look out for:
- Persistent mouth sore
- Pain in mouth or ear
- Chronic hoarseness
- Unusual sore throat
- Abnormal swallowing
- Non-tender lump in neck.
If you experience any of the above, inform your dentist during your visit. Early-stage cancer is often painless, your dentist might see something you don’t at this stage.
A regular self-exam is another way to detect oral cancer at an early stage.
Step 1: Intra Oral Self-Exam – visual check
What you need: Bright light (flashlight). Washcloth or gauze (to pull out tongue).
What to look for: Color difference, Texture change, Lesions, Lumps
What are you examining?
- Floor of the mouth
- Roof of the mouth
- Back on the throat.
Examine extra carefully the tongue and floor of mouth. These 2 areas of your mouth account for 60% of the oral cancers.
Something looks odd? Take a picture and make an appointment with your dentist.
Step 2: External Self-Exam (Face and Neck)
What to feel for: Lumps and bumps
How to feel for it: Firm pressure to feel a deep node
Something feels odd? Make an appointment with an Ear Nose and Throat specialist.
1 Jaw Junction
Slide down in front of your ear from above to below ear.
2 Nodes behind ear
Start behind you ear, slide down along your neck.
3 Side neck Muscle
Grab the side neck muscle, turn your chin to the right and feel the muscle, turn your chin to the left and feel the muscle.
4 Gullet Grab and Swallow
Gullet Grab and Swallow
5 Chin down under jaw
Palms up, fingers away from you. Feel under jaw bone.
6 Clavicle clutch: Rounded shoulder hunch
It is important to remember, is that when detected early, oral cancer can be treated and your dentist will routinely check for signs of oral cancer during your regular dental checkup visits.