A Life-Saving Routine
The Oral Cancer Foundation estimates close to 42,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. Oral cancer’s mortality is particularly high—not because it’s difficult to detect or diagnose, but because the cancer is often discovered late in its development.
As oral and maxillofacial surgeons, Dr. Coates and Dr. DeWitt are the experts for diagnosing and helping to treat cancers of the head and neck region. As graduates of the IU Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Program they trained alongside some of the most highly respected oral and maxillofacial pathologists in the country.
Everyone should perform an oral cancer self-exam each month. An oral examination is performed using a bright light and a mirror:
- Remove any dentures
- Look and feel inside the lips and the front of the gums
- Tilt your head back to inspect and feel the roof of your mouth
- Pull the cheek out to see its inside surface, as well as the back of the gums
- Pull out your tongue and look at all of its surfaces
- Feel for lumps or enlarged lymph nodes (glands) in both sides
- of the neck, including under the lower jaw
When performing a self-examination, look for the following:
- White patches of the oral tissues — leukoplakia
- Red patches — erythroplakia
- Red and white patches — erythroleukoplakia
- A sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily
- An abnormal lump or thickening of the tissues of the mouth
- Chronic sore throat or hoarseness
- Difficulty in chewing or swallowing
- A mass or lump in the neck
Your mouth is one of your body’s most important early warning systems. Don’t ignore any suspicious lumps or sores. Should you discover something, make an appointment at the Oral Surgery Office for a prompt examination. Early treatment may well be the key to complete recovery.
Download an Oral Pathology eBook courtesy of the AAOMS.