Be Proactive: Know the Symptoms of Oral Cancer

 

The Oral Cancer Self Exam

Using a mirror, follow these steps:

  1. Head, face and neck – Feel along your face and neck to check for any swelling, tenderness or lumps. Look for color changes, growths or sores on your skin.
  2. Lips – Check for any lumps or abnormal texture. Look inside for any sores or unusual coloring.
  3. Cheeks – Squeeze your cheeks between your finger and thumb to feel for any tenderness or lumps. Check the insides of your cheeks for any red, white or darkened patches.
  4. Mouth – Look inside your mouth for unusual color, texture or swelling on the roof of your mouth, tongue or beneath your tongue. Feel for any lumps throughout your mouth.

Though many oral cancer symptoms can be credited to other factors, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms and perform self-exams at home.

Always talk to your physician or dentist if you experience any of the following symptoms for longer than two weeks:

  • Mouth sore that doesn’t heal
  • A lasting sore throat that doesn’t get better with treatment
  • Thickening or lump in the cheek
  • Mouth pain
  • White or red patches on the tonsils, mouth, tongue or gums
  • Tingling or numbness in the mouth or tongue
  • Trouble chewing, swallowing, or moving the jaw and/or tongue
  • Loosening or pain around the teeth
  • Lump or mass in the neck
  • Swelling of the jaw (may notice dentures not fitting)
  • Consistent bad breath
  • Weight loss
  • Voice changes

Sources:

1. About Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancer; American Cancer Society; 2017

2. Oral Cancer; Prevent Cancer Foundation

3. Want Some Life Saving Advice? Ask Your Dental Hygienist About Oral Cancer; American Dental Hygienists’ Association; August 2010