Modified Oral Self Examination Techniques by Dr Victor Fan
Wash your hands and look in front of a mirror with good lighting. Do the following 10 steps in a
systematic fashion from the lips, cheeks, tongue, floor and roof of mouth looking for any abnormalities:
Lips Step 1 and 2: Lift up upper and pull down lower lip to look right inside the fold
Cheeks Step 3 and 4: Stretch open right / left cheek to look inside to the furthest corner
Tongue Step 5,6 and 7: Stretch out tongue to check the left and right and under-surface
Floor of mouth Step8: Lift tongue up to check floor of mouth
Palate Step 9 and 10: Tilt head back to check palate and say “arrh…” to check soft palate
What to look out for ?
Do not make any diagnosis of your own; always consult a dentist or doctor.
Consult your dentist or doctor if there are any signs or symptoms of:
- Unexplained numbness, loss of sensation or pain on lips, tongue, mouth, face, neck
- Change in the voice, persistent hoarseness or sore throat or pain in the ear
- Difficulty in speech or swallowing or sensation in throat that don’t go away
- Ulcers that do not heal within 2 weeks
- Swellings lips, mouth, face and neck and white/red patches inside mouth
Some facts on Mouth or Oral Cancer
- Oral cancer include cancers of the lip, the mucosa (inside lining of the lips and cheeks), tongue, gums,
- floor of the mouth underneath the tongue, hard palate and the area behind the wisdom teeth.
- They are usually painless in the early stage
- Cigarette smoking, chewing/ smoking tobacco, alcohol consumption are the common risk factors for oral cancers.
- They can arise from premalignant lesions, which are easily detectable by routine oral examination.
- Oral cancers diagnosed in the early stages are curable.
Mouth Cancer Self Examination Techniques prepared by Dr Victor Fan, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, Gleneagles Hospital; Visiting Senior Consultant, NUHS, Singapore.
Adapted with thanks from Dr Moni Kuriakose, Amrita Head and Neck Cancer Detection and Prevention Clinic, AIMS Head and Neck Institute, Cochin, India. (Nov 2009)