How to Perform a Self-Exam for Oral Cancer

Christopher C. Babcock, MD is an oral surgeon who practices at Louisville Oral Surgery and Dental Implants located in Louisville, Kentucky. Christopher C. Babcock, MD is a member of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, an organization that advocates for industry professionals and raises awareness for causes that relate to the field such as combatting oral cancer.

Oral and pharyngeal cancer, cancer of the mouth and upper throat, kills around one person every hour of every day of the year. The deathrate of oral and pharyngeal cancer has a relatively high deathrate and only around 60% of people diagnosed will live longer than 5 years. Because of this, it is very important to know how to recognize early signs of this cancer to receive treatment as soon as possible, as this cancer’s deathrate is higher than others due to an overall pattern of late discovery.

The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons recommends performing a self-exam every month. Using a bright light and a mirror, look and feel the inside of your lips and the front of your gums, then tilt your head back and feel the roof of your mouth. Inspect the inside of your cheeks, the back of your gums, and your tongue. Feel around for lumps or enlarged lymph nodes on both sides of your neck as well as the lower jaw.

Specifically look for white and/or red patches, sores that don’t heal and bleed easily, abnormal lumps, and a mass or lump in the neck. If you are experiencing chronic sore throat, difficulty chewing or swallowing, or find any symptoms above, contact your oral doctor immediately.

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