A step-by-step guide to checking for early signs of oral cancer; don’t miss red flags


Check your oral cavity for early signs of cancer (Photo: Pixabay)

Your dentist shouldn’t just be an emergency care provider. There’s a big reason you need to have regular dental checkups. One of them is the net result that a dentist can detect early signs of mouth cancer during a routine check-up session.

As part of a routine dental exam, have your dentist inspect your entire mouth for abnormal areas that may indicate mouth cancer or precancerous changes.

Mouth cancer must be treated in time to increase the chances of recovery and to stop the spread to the head and neck.

Without treatment, the abnormal cancer cells of the mouth that accumulate can form a tumor and spread slowly and stealthily inside the mouth and to other areas of the head and neck or other parts of the body .

5 factors leave a person particularly predisposed to developing oral cancer:

  1. Tobacco consumption (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco and snuff, etc.)
  2. Excessive consumption of alcohol
  3. Excessive sun exposure on your lips
  4. A sexually transmitted virus called human papillomavirus (HPV)
  5. A weakened immune system (due to illness or medication)

A quick oral self-examination: This exercise can help you find if there are any abnormalities in the mouth area. Here are the signs you should look out for when examining your oral area:

  1. Confront: Do you see any unusual contours or swelling on your skin? Are there moles that weren’t there earlier, especially those that grow and itch and bleed?
  2. Neck: This is an exercise you should do throughout your adult life, at least once a fortnight. Run your fingers under your jaw and touch the large muscle on either side of your jaw. Use the soft pads of your fingers to scan and feel for any differences or abnormalities. Ideally, both parties should feel similar.
  3. Lips: Are there ulcers that do not heal well? Or numbness – a strange, unexplained feeling? Use your index finger and thumb to feel inside your mouth. Pull your upper lip up and your lower lip down. Look inside for any ulcers or color changes.
  4. Erasers: Bleeding gums – even though you had healthy gums earlier – should be a red flag. Use your index finger, or your thumb and index finger to feel around the gums and look for anything unusual, out of place, or a gum injury that hasn’t healed for a long time or even gotten worse.
  5. Cheeks: When you look inside your mouth, do you see any discoloration? Open your mouth and inspect the inside of your cheeks by pulling sideways, one side at a time. Do you see red or white spots? Ulcers, redness, lumpy structures, tenderness? Check both sides, use tongue to feel inside mouth for sores, ulcers, rough patches.
  6. Tongue: Several types of cancer can affect the tongue, but tongue cancer most often begins in the thin, flat squamous cells that line the surface of the tongue. Tongue cancer located in the area inside the mouth is easily treatable with surgical removal and follow-up. Tongue cancer that begins at the base of the tongue tends to be diagnosed when the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the neck. Stick your tongue out and check the entire surface. Stick your tongue out to one side and then the other. Check under the tongue by touching the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth.
  7. Floor and roof of the mouth: Do not ignore this patch as it is a vital component of the oral cavity and therefore as susceptible to oral cancer as other parts of the oral cavity. Inspect the roof of your mouth, also clean your hands and check with your fingertips.

The essential :

When it comes to cancer screening, it’s better to look or even look silly and rather be safe than sorry. Make an appointment with your doctor or dentist if you have persistent signs and symptoms that bother you and last longer than two weeks. Your doctor will also rule out other more common causes of your signs and symptoms first. As far as you know, this is a minor oral health problem that has a quick fix.

Warning: The tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or dietitian before starting any fitness program or making any changes to your diet.


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