Oral cancer is a type of cancer that if caught early, the survival rate is very high. But unfortunately, most people don’t check for this type of cancer regularly and cancers of the mouth grow very quickly and once it does, the survival rate is very low. Oral cancer can affect any part of the mouth including tongue, cheeks, gums, lips, soft and hard palate, larynx and esophagus. Since you are the first person to notice any changes in your body, you can determine the presence of cancer early on by self-examination.
Basically, you are responsible to look after yourself especially with your health. You are the best person to feel and see changes that happen in your own body. Here are ways on how to self-examine for this disease:
Although we cannot see deep enough to check the larynx or esophagus, this will still catch some of the early signs.
Coughing can be a sign, too!
Cough which stays for a longtime, can be a determinant for oral cancer. You may feel like you only have a cold but really you do not, there are no signs of a cold, only a cough, then you need to see your doctor. Choking cough which is common to smokers are the first signs of irritated upper lungs. In order to rule out whether your cough is due to smoking or possibly cancer, you need to stop smoking for a few days or a week and see if the cough goes away. If it doesn’t then see your doctor right away.
Self-examination for oral cancer can be done in your own private space. It can save your life. Taking care of your body means keeping an eye on every angle for any abrupt changes like the manifestations of oral cancers. Try to check around your mouth everyday if possible because this will give you a great idea of what your mouth looks like and you can detect any changes quickly. If you detect any changes or see any or the signs and symptoms we discussed, see your dentist right away.
Remember, you should still have your dentist do a oral cancer exam every six months. Also your dentist has special equipment to do a more thorough oral cancer exam to detect discolorations and lesions that may not be visible to the eye. So make sure if your dentist does not offer you this, ask for it. Also remember, treatment for oral cancer is very effective if caught at its early stages. Don’t take a risk with your life!
Here is a video on how to self examine
By: Ladan Zinati