As with all cancers, the earlier a cancer is detected and treated, the better the outcomes. Cancer of tongue, lips, cheeks, oesophagus, larynx and other body bits around your mouth. How often do we examine ourselves for early signs of oral cancer?
These 7 tips for self-examination don’t take long, they don’t hurt, you can do them yourself and, in the process, make yourself a strong advocate for your own good health.
- Tongue and floor of the mouth
Look in a mirror and stick out your tongue.
Examine the upper surface of the tongue for any unusual lumps or obvious changes in colour. Dark blotches, for example, on the upper surface of the tongue should be examined.
Pull the tongue forward and examine the sides for lumps, bumps, masses and, again, obvious changes in skin colour or texture. If you discover any obvious swelling, see a doctor. But you can see oral cancer, in many instances, early enough to solve the problem. Examine the underside of your tongue by placing the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Oral cancers are often painless, making them difficult to diagnosis based on pain. Your tongue should have a uniform texture and uniform colour. Glide you finger along the underside of your tongue to feel for unseen bumps. Any deviation should be examined by your family doctor first to see if a visit to an oncologist is step #2.
- Examine the roof of your mouth
The roof of the mouth is easy to examine with your eyes and with your fingers. Tilt your head back as you stand in front of a mirror. Position yourself so you get a good view of the entire upper mouth.
Perform a visual exam for discoloration. Then gently slide your finger over the roof of your mouth feeling for any kind of protrusion. (Hot Beverage blisters don’t count.) If you feel anything out of the ordinary, report to your doctor immediately.
- Check your cheeks
Visually inspect your cheeks. Extend them (be gentle) to look for red, white or dark-colored patches. Next, place your forefinger on the interior check and your thumb on the outer cheek. Gently squeeze as you rotate your fingers across the entire cheek. This is the best way to detect lumps, bumps or swelling – through the sense of touch. Cheek cancer can often be felt before there are any visible symptoms.
- Head and Neck
Stand with your head straight up in front of a mirror. Usually, your face is uniform, i.e., has the same shape on both sides. However, a lump, bump or other protrusion on one side of the face is a definite signal to see your doctor. It may be nothing, it may be something. In either case, it’s worth checking out and a visit to your family doctor is the best place to start when you first detect unevenness within your facial structure.
The lips are highly sensitive to sunlight and lip cancer is one possible (and unfortunate) result. Open your mouth and examine both the outer and inner lip for changes in colour or texture. Gently extend your lips to get the best view of the interior lip area. (You may have to do a little twisting to get the view you want. If so, use a hand mirror to get a good look at the interior lip surface.) Discoloration and protrusions are sometimes early signs of lip cancer. However, you accidently bite your lip, the lips are constantly moving as you talk, you moisten your lips with your tongue and so on, so expect to see changes. Even the seasons change the exterior portion of the lip so dried lips in the middle of winter aren’t a sign of cancer, though you may want to get some moisturisers to keep lips moist.
- Neck Area
This is where the oesophagus and larynx are located, but we can’t see that far down our own throats, However, using a feather-light touch, gently slide your fingers along the sides and front of your neck feeling for any lumps that you discover on one side of your neck but not the other. Use your finger tip to gently glide over the skin of your neck feeling for anything out of the ordinary. Next, apply a small amount of pressure as you slide your fingers over the skin. This time note any tenderness, soreness of swelling. So, first a gentle exam, and then add a little pressure to identify any soreness or swelling.
- A Persistent Cough
You can feel it and hear it – a cough that just doesn’t go away. Often, you consider it up to a cold, but you don’t have any symptoms of a cold. Just that cough. Smokers may experience “smoker’s” cough that comes and goes. This often occurs when the upper portion of the lungs become irritated.
It also occurs when the airway to the lungs becomes irritated and inflamed. Most smokers just live with it, though for many, not as long. Quitting, even for a couple of days, will sometimes clear up a case of smoker’s cough but if you still have a scratchy sore throat even though you’ve given up smoking until your throat feels better, make an appointment to see your doctor.
Ask your dentist to perform an examine each time you’re in for a cleaning. Some dental professionals perform this examine routinely.Make examining your mouth part of your oral hygiene regimen each day. Takes less than a minute, you get a better feeling for what’s going on in there and you may discover a form of oral cancer before it even has the chance to do any damage.
Give a few minutes for yourself, Examine your Oral cavity and Live Long! For more such tips for oral health, you can simply log on to www.healthymouthhealthybody.org.in