The signs of mouth cancer
When mouth cancer is caught early, the chances of survival increase to nine out of ten cases which are amazing odds. However, knowing the warning signs of mouth is crucial to its detection, so to help bolster these odds we’re helping our patients learn how to detect changes in their mouth. November is Mouth Cancer Action Month, so there really is no better time to share potentially life-saving information – though we continue to offer these checks and advice all year ’round.
The warning signs of mouth cancer
Mouth cancer may appear as innocuous changes in your mouth’s tissue or as starkly obvious, so it’s important you learn what to look out for. It can manifest in a variety of different places in the mouth, including the lips, tongue, gums, and cheeks. There are three general signs that, if they appear in any of these areas of your mouth, you should seek a professional medical opinion from your dentist or doctor. If you have what appears to be a mouth ulcer that hasn’t healed after three weeks, light or dark discolouration, or unexplained lumps then you should seek a medical opinion.
How to check for mouth cancer
Your head and neck – Search for any lumps, bumps, or swellings on your head and neck that may appear on one side and not the other. Feel and press along the sides and front of your neck in your efforts to detect lumps or tenderness.
Your lips – In the mirror, pull down your lower lip and check this inside tissue for any sores or changes in colour. Remember that these sores may appear to look like ulcers, and if your ulcer isn’t healed after 3 weeks this could be a sign of mouth cancer. Use a thumb and finger to feel the lip for any unusual lumps or changes in texture. Repeat this process with your upper lip, too.
Your cheeks – In front of the mirror or with the help of your dentist, pull your cheek aside so that you can see its inside wall. Check for any new or developing red, white, or dark patches. Then, place a finger on the inside of the cheek and your thumb on the outside so that if you pressed downwards, you would be pinching your cheek. Proceed to gently squeeze and roll your cheek to check for any lumps, tenderness, or ulcers and repeat this on your other cheek.
Your tongue – Stick out your tongue in the mirror and move it from side to side, checking for any swelling, lumps, or tissue discolouration on either side of it. Check the surface for any changes in texture and colour. Lastly, place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth and check its underside for these exact signs.
The floor of your mouth – Press your finger along the floor of your mouth and the underside of your tongue to feel for swelling, lumps, and ulcers. Keep an eye out for discolouration in this area, too.
The roof of your mouth – This check you may need a dentist’s assistance with, though you should always ask your dentist for a check. Tilt your head back and open your mouth wide so that your dentist may check the roof of your mouth for lumps or discoloured patches.
It’s important to know the warning signs of mouth cancer to keep ourselves safe. The survival rate for this particular cancer is very high, but this is reliant on us noticing changes in our mouths. Of course, the dental team at Harwood Dental Care in Bolton will check your mouth for the warning signs every time you visit us, but these at-home checks are equally as important. Learn the signs, stay informed, and stay safe this November and for the many Novembers to come. To book your check-up at our dental practice, enquire online or speak to a friendly member of the team on 01204 304568 today.