It’s probably not something you think about very often, but more people than ever are getting oral cancer. Awareness surrounding the disease remains critically low, and your Houston oral surgeon, Dr. Steve Koo is working on improving outcomes following oral cancer diagnoses by emphasizing the need for regular screenings. Did you know you can give yourself an oral cancer exam at home? It’s easy — read on to learn how.
Oral Cancer: The Basics
Oral cancer is that which affects the lips, tongue, cheeks, hard or soft palate, or the neck. Historically linked to age, genetics, and tobacco/alcohol use, oral cancer rates are on the rise among younger, healthier patients along with the spread of the human papillomavirus. Men are slightly more likely to have oral cancer than women. It is recommended that adults should have a professional oral cancer screening annually alongside the regular checkup and cleaning at the dentist, but you can also give yourself a screening at home.
Give Yourself an Oral Cancer Exam (Like, Now)
Early detection is important for successful outcomes following any cancer diagnosis, and the same is true with oral cancer. Because no one knows better than you about the small changes that occur in your mouth, a self exam for oral cancer is an important tool for catching oral cancer in the earliest stages. If you find anything suspicious during the self exam, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a specialist like Dr. Koo.
Here’s how to perform an oral cancer exam on yourself:
- Get a mirror. You’ll need to look in your mouth and at your face to catch the early warning signs of oral cancer. Stick out your tongue and look for any lumps, bumps, or discolored patches. See your doctor if you notice anything unusual, or if you have persistent swelling. Do the same for the roof of your mouth, under your tongue, and on your cheeks.
- Look for asymmetry. Changes in the symmetry of your face can indicate oral cancer. Stand with your head straight up in front of the mirror and see if everything lines up the way it always has. If you notice any changes, that could be cause for concern.
- Touch your neck. You won’t be able to see inside your neck, but you can feel around to see if there’s any tenderness or bumps that exist on one side but not the other. With a light touch, press around both sides of your throat. Notice any lumps that exist on one side but not the other, including whether or not they are tender or sore.
- Take note of a cough. If you have a cough that doesn’t go away but you don’t have any other symptoms of a cold, it could be a sign of oral cancer.
- Consider changes in swallowing. Discomfort or a strange sensation when swallowing can indicate oral cancer.
Talk to Us Today!
If you find anything unusual during an oral cancer examination, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a specialist. Dr. Koo can provide a professional exam and give you advice for what you should do next. Request an appointment for a checkup and cleaning today.