Tuesday, April 16, 2013

6 Steps to a Thorough Oral Cancer Screening & Early Detection

Last week we brought you the inspiring story of Eva Grayzel, who was diagnosed with late stage oral cancer at age 33, and had about a 15% survival rate. After her amazing defeat of the disease, she has become a champion for early detection, and started Six-Step Screening, a foundation to raise public awareness about the existence and early signs of oral cancer, to inspire oral health professionals to perform thorough and regular oral cancer screenings on every patient, and to provide guidance, support and hope to newly diagnosed oral cancer patients.

This week, we're going to cover the signs of early oral cancer, and how to know if you've gotten a thorough oral cancer screening.

Watch out for the following signs:

  • Changes to the oral tissue such as a red or a white patch, or changes to the texture
  • Persistent sore throat 
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chronic sore throat
  • Lump in neck - especially if it doesn't bother you
  • Mouth or ear pain
Six Steps to a Thorough Oral Cancer Screening
Your dentist or hygienist will:

Step 1 - Tongue 'n Gauze: Extend your tongue as far as it can go, examining the sides and underside for white and red patches, and feels your tongue for lumps. NOTE: This is the most common site oral cancers in non-smokers.

Step 2 - Lip & Cheek Roll: Feel for lumps or bumps, looking for white or red areas that should not be there.

Step 3 - Double-Digit Probe: Examine the floor of your mouth from the top and bottom simultaneously for lumps, looking for red and white patches.

Step 4 - Palate Tickle: Check the roof of your mouth for lumps and areas of softness on the hard palette, looking for red and white patches.

Step 5 - Neck Caress: Palpate your neck for enlarged lymph nodes - a possible sign of infection or something more serious.

Step 6 - Tonsil Ahhhhh: Depress your tongue with a dental mirror, examining your tonsils for symmetry, enlargement, redness, or unusual bumps.

Self Exam
Know your mouth. We are told to do self-exams for the breasts and prostate. We are told to check our skin for spots with irregular borders. Now, it's time to check your mouth! Click here to download the self-exam sheet.

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