Oral Cancer Symptoms: 6 Steps to Check at Home

We use them to savour delicacies, share stories, and kiss our loved ones — can you imagine what life would be like without a healthy mouth?

Do you know what oral cancer symptoms look like? Most people know about the dangers of cavities and gum disease, but awareness about oral cancer seems to be far less common.

Oral (mouth) cancer is one of the world’s most common cancers, with over 900 new intraoral carcinoma cases registered in Australia each year – approximately 6.5 percent of all cancers diagnosed in Australia (Oral Health crc 2020).

Early detection of oral cancer can increase the options and success of treatment. So, this month we’re aiming to raise awareness to get more mouth cancers diagnosed at an early stage.

6-Step Oral Cancer Self-Exam

Giving yourself an oral cancer test at home is quick, easy, and may save your life. All you need is clean hands and a flashlight.

  1. Examine your entire face, checking for any irregularities or changes in the symmetry between the two sides.
  2. Check both the inside and outside of your lips for changes in texture and colour.
  3. Look at your gums, especially the area around your teeth, and check for bleeding or irregularities.
  4. Draw back the sides of your mouth and examine the inside of your cheeks for lumps, bumps, or discoloration.
  5. Check your tongue for irregularities. It’s a good idea to feel it with a finger for any hard lumps.
  6. Feel around the neck and throat area for any unusual bumps.

Other Symptoms of Oral Cancer

Beyond the visible symptoms, there are other signs to look out for when giving yourself an oral cancer exam. Some of the most common symptoms of oral cancer that people experience include:

  • Unexplained localised bleeding/swelling around the tongue, gums, or other areas of the mouth
  • Sudden numbness or loss of feeling in the face, mouth, lips or throat
  • Persistent sores that don’t heal within a two-week timeframe
  • Soreness in the mouth, the back of the throat, or in the jaw that does not resolve
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing or speaking
  • Hoarseness or a change in voice
  • Exposed jaw-bone
  • Swelling (lumps or bumps) on face or neck region that does not resolve.
  • Sudden Weight loss, night sweats

If you do find an area of concern or are experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your dentist immediately to have it examined further.

Regular Mouth Health Checks

In addition to monthly self-exams, ensure you maintain regular mouth health check appointments with your family dentist. We generally recommend patients receive a check-up every 6 months, but you may be monitored more frequently if you have existing dental issues or are at higher risk of dental health problems (those who have a family history of oral cancer, or are a smoker or chew tobacco).

Contact us today – we can book in your regular health checks and show you how to conduct at-home self-exams.

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