ODHA Website > Your Oral Health > Oral Cancer Examination
Factors to consider:
  • Learn to recognize the normal healthy condition of your own mouth.
  • Be able to recognize changes or abnormal conditions in your mouth.
  • The occurrence of oral cancer is relatively low compared to other forms of cancer -contributing factors to oral cancer include: age, use of tobacco in any form, excessive use of alcohol, chronic irritation of tissues due to ill fitting dentures or fillings, repeated trauma to the mouth and overexposure to the sun.
  • Signs and symptoms of oral cancer include any swelling, red or white patches or sores that do not heal within two weeks (consult your dentist or medical doctor) – look for changes in your oral tissues.

Weekly Self Examination Routine

Equipment Needed: flashlight, small mirror, piece of gauze, wall mirror

  1. Look at yourself in the mirror – both sides of your face and neck should look the same.
  2. Look at the skin on your neck and face for any changes in color, moles that have changed, lumps or sores.
  3. Feel both sides of your neck gently with your fingertips.
  4. Gently place your finger over your “Adam’s Apple” and swallow. It should move. Report any hoarseness that doesn’t clear up within two weeks.
  5. Remove any dentures or appliances from your mouth.
  6. Check the inside of your mouth first by shining the flashlight in, then by putting the small mirror in your mouth.
  7. Check the roof of your mouth for changes in color or lumps. With your index finger, gently press the roof of your mouth to feel for abnormalities.
  8. Feel the floor of your mouth with your index finger. Remember, you are looking for:
    a. color changes
    b. swelling
    c. changes in shape
  9. With a piece of gauze between your finger and thumb, examine all sides of your tongue – feel your tongue with your fingers.
  10. Look at your gums for color change, lumps, bumps or tenderness. Report any sores that have not healed for longer than 14 days.
  11. Pull your upper lip and then your lower lip down and check. Gently squeeze your lips as well as your cheeks with your fingers to feel for lumps, bumps or tenderness. Report any pain or loss of feeling or any areas that bleed without cause.
  12. Run your index finger over your upper and lower arch gently.