; charset=UTF-8" /> " />

Six Steps for a Monthly Oral Cancer Self Exam



Sebastian J. Castellano, D.D.S.
Dental Blog

Dr. Sebastian Castellano Suggests Six Steps for a Monthly Oral Cancer Self Exam

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

When it comes to your health, your mouth is one of your body’s most important early warning systems. Don’t ignore any suspicious lumps or sores. If you discover something, don’t panic. Make an appointment for a prompt examination. Early treatment may well be the key to complete recovery.

With each dental appointment or regularly scheduled cleaning, our staff performs an oral exam to search for any sign of oral cancer.

Dr. Castellano recommends that you perform a self-exam monthly.

Steps to Perform a Monthly Self-Exam

Using a bright light and a mirror:

  1. remove any dentures
  2. look and feel inside the lips and the front of gums
  3. tilt head back to inspect and feel the roof of your mouth
  4. pull the cheek out to see its inside surface as well as the back of the gums
  5. pull out your tongue and look at all of its surfaces
  6. feel for lumps or enlarged lymph nodes (glands) in both sides of the neck including under the lower jaw


photos-of-possible-oral-cancerOral Cancer – What to look for:

(figure a)

  • white patches, called leukoplakia
  • red patches (erythroplakia)

(figure b)

  • red and white patches (erythroleukoplakia)
  • sore(s) that fails to heal and bleeds easily

(figures c and d)

  • abnormal lumps or thickening of the tissues
  • chronic sore throat or hoarseness
  • difficulty in chewing or swallowing

(figure e)

  • a mass or lump in the neck


Article and photos courtesy of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon.