Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Oral Cancer Self Screening

Thousands of Canadians are diagnosed every year with life-threatening oral cancer. On a positive note, when detected early, this disease has an estimated 80 per cent survival rate. Learning to recognize abnormal conditions in your mouth and performing a routine self examination is an important survival guide.

Most oral cancers begin in the cells on the surface of the tissue of the mouth. They are shallow but over time penetrate deeper into the tissue and potentially the bone.

Oral cancer may develop in any of the following areas:
  • Lips
  • Oral cavity (tongue, gums, inside the cheeks, under the tongue, roof of the mouth)
  • Oropharynx (back of the mouth, throat and tonsils).
Signs and Symptoms to watch for:

The normal course of healing is an average of two weeks. Anyone experiencing the following problems beyond this timeframe should consult a dental professional or family medical doctor:
  • White or red patches anywhere in the mouth
  • Mouth sores that bleeds easily and/or won’t heal
  • A color change in the oral tissues
  • Teeth that suddenly become loose
  • Dentures that stop fitting or become ill fitting
  • Pain or difficulty swallowing/speaking
  • Swelling or lumps
  • A color change in the oral tissues
  • Indented areas in the oral cavity
  • Enlarged and/or hard lymph nodes or glands
  • Persistent earaches
How to do your at home examination: (Should be done monthly)
  • Looking in the mirror, your face should look the same on both sides
  • Check your skin for any lumps, sores, discolorations or bumps
  • Feel your neck with finger tips for any lumps, bumps or sore spots
  • Gently place your finger over your “Adam’s Apple” and swallow. It should move up and down, not to the side. Report any hoarseness that doesn’t clear up within two weeks.
  • Check the inside of your mouth with a flashlight to check for any discolorations or lumps. Feel the roof of your mouth with your finger for any changes.
  • Examine your tongue by pulling it out with a piece of gauze, checking all upper, lower and each side for abnormalities.
  • Check gum color and make note of any redness, white spots, or sores that are not healing well.
  • Pull upper lip up and lower lip down, squeeze gently for any lumps, bumps or sore spots. Do the same for cheek areas as well.
If any abnormal areas are found, document and contact your dentist or family doctor to have a proper examination.

Sara Haire
Dental Hygienist

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