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Oral Cancer

Did you know that oral cancer has and 91- 93% prevention rate? It also has a 19 to 59% survival rate for 10 years or more if treated at its earliest stages. What this means is that both prevention and early treatment are significant factors with regards to mouth cancer.

The question therefore becomes, where can we get this early diagnosis and or prevention advice from?

The simple answer is, your dentist.

Dr Donna Hill from Trinity Dental Centre in Barnstaple says:

“One of the most important things with mouth cancer is early detection

Dr Hill has therefore put together a comprehensive Self Examination for oral cancer that you can easily undertake at home.

To identify the are early signs of oral cancer you should:

Check your tongue and floor of the mouth

Look in a mirror and stick out your tongue.

Take a good look at the top surface of the tongue for any unusual lumps or obvious changes in colour. If you see any dark blotches these should be examined further.

Gently hold your tongue and pull it forwards. Take a look at the sides for lumps, & bumps and, watch out for changes in colour and/or texture. Remember,  oral cancers are often painless so go on appearance rather than sensation.

Check the the underneath of your tongue by placing the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth, then look and feel for any unusual swellings, lumps or bumps or changes in colour and/or texture .

Examine the roof of your mouth

the roof of your mouth is pretty easy to check both visually and by feeling with your finger. If you tilt your head back in front of the mirror you should be able to see the majority of it.

 Again, you are looking for any lumps, bumps, discolourations and/or changes of texture out of the ordinary. It's natural for the roof of your mouth to have small irregularities (called rugae), you are checking for anything out of the ordinary.

 

Check your cheeks

Take a good look at the inside of your cheeks. You are looking for any areas which appear red, white or dark and. Particularly look out for patchy areas of these colours. If you gently squeeze your cheek between your thumb and forefinger on the inside and outside the you should be able to feel for any abnormal swellings or lumps.

This is important to do as oral cancer in your cheek is usually felt before it is seen.

 

Check your Head and neck

Stand in front of the mirror looking directly at it, make sure that both sides of your face look broadly symmetrical and that one side doesn't look like it has extra lumps, bumps or swellings. Look for anything that stands out as an extra ordinary.

Examine your Lips

With your mouth slightly open cheque your top lip and bottom lip on both the inside and outside surfaces, again looking for changes in colour, texture or for any lumps and bumps that aren't usually there.

 

Examine your Neck area

stand in front of a mirror and look slightly upwards, place your hands on either side of your neck with your fingers gently underneath the sides of your jawbone, gently glide your fingertips over the skin towards your neck and then extended down your neck.

As you do this, use only a small amount of pressure and note any areas that feel tender or swollen. Begin with the lightest pressure and then repeat the test using a little more pressure.

 

Do you have a persistent cough or hoarseness of the voice?

In some circumstances both a persistent cough or hoarseness of voice can be early signs of oral cancer..

 

Summary

You should ideally be visiting a dentist at least once per year, preferably twice a year, not only will this give you the best opportunity to stay dentally fit but your dentist should also be performing an oral cancer screening at each appointment.

With prevention and early detection it's possible to make a real difference with oral cancer.

As with any cancer, if in doubt, get checked out.

 

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