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Oral Cancer: What You Need to Know

All about signs, screening and early detection of oral cancer.

Oral cancer can happen on the lips, tongue, cheeks, mouth, sinuses and throat. People at any age can have oral cancer, but it happens the most in people over the age of 45. Men have twice the risk for oral cancer than women do.

Signs of oral cancer include:

  • A sore on the lip or in the mouth that won’t heal
  • A lump on lip or in the mouth or throat
  • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, or other area in the mouth
  • Unusual bleeding, pain, or numbness in the mouth
  • A sore throat that won’t go away
  • The feeling that something is caught in the throat
  • Pain with chewing or swallowing, or having a hard time chewing or swallowing
  • A swelling of the jaw
  • A change in your voice
  • Ear pain

Screening for Oral Cancer

An oral cancer screening is painless and takes only a few minutes. Your dentist can screen you during a regular dental exam. If you have dentures or partials, you will need to take them out for an oral cancer screening. Then the dentist will: 

  • Inspect your face, neck, lips, and mouth to look for visible signs of oral cancer
  • Feel the area under your jaw and the sides of your neck with both hands to check for lumps
  • Inspect the insides of your lips and cheeks
  • Ask you to stick out your tongue, and check for swelling, color, and texture
  • Check under your tongue by using gauze to gently push it to one side and then the other
  • Inspect your throat, and the roof and floor of your mouth


Preventistry Pulse


The newsletter designed for anyone who wants to improve oral health for themselves, their families, customers or communities.