Oral cancer is a silent, deadly disease that could cost you your life if it isn’t caught early enough. Risk factors can include everything from certain viruses like HPV to sun exposure to tobacco and alcohol use. In the United States, one person dies every hour from oral cancer. Oral cancer screenings in Kalamazoo are available through our dental office, Lindenwoods Dental.
The Best Treatment is Early Detection
Since oral cancer usually isn’t detected until it’s extremely pronounced, it’s essential to see your dentist regularly. During your checkups, we’ll perform an oral cancer exam to screen for any warning signs. The earlier it’s noted, the more successful your treatment outcome is likely to be.
Self Oral Cancer Exam
In addition to your Kalamazoo oral cancer exam during regular checkups, you can perform a self oral cancer screening at home each month. Here’s how:
Know What to Look For
Oral cancer usually presents itself as:
- Sores that don’t heal after a couple of weeks
- White, red, or speckled tissues
- Raised, firm lumps or growths
- Craters or depressions in the tissues
- Lesions with atypical, poorly-defined borders
- Loss of the “vermillion border” (edge) of your lips, causing the lip to blur into the skin next to it
Stick Out Your Tongue
One of the most common places to see oral cancer is on the tongue. You’ll want to check both sides as well as underneath. You can hold the tip of your tongue with a clean piece of gauze to pull it from side to side.
While you’re at it, pull your lip up/down to look inside of it. If you have a mirror and light, you can also look inside your cheeks, the floor of your mouth, and on the roof of your mouth (palate).
Check for Sores or Skin That Doesn’t “Match”
If you notice any lesion on your oral mucosa (skin) that doesn’t look like the tissues around it, check to see if it’s the same on the opposite side of your mouth. If it is, it’s probably normal oral anatomy. But if it isn’t, you want to be sure to bring it up with our Kalamazoo dentist during your next oral cancer exam.
Swallow and Check Your Neck
Are you experiencing any difficulty swallowing? Do you notice any lumps or nodules in your throat? When you feel your neck from the outside, are your lymph nodes swollen in a specific area? Be sure to let our dentist or your physician know.
Contact Us Immediately
Contact our office to book an oral cancer exam if you have any suspicious areas inside or around your mouth or sores that don’t heal within 14 days. Our dentist will evaluate the area. Call us today to get started.