The Mouth Cancer Foundation in the UK has come up with a simple head and neck cancer check that can be carried out by anyone at home, at any time, but ideally once per month.
The aim of ‘Bite Back at Mouth Cancer’ is to show members of the public what to look for and how to seek help if they find something out of the ordinary.
Face: Look at the whole face. Are there any swellings you haven’t noticed before? Inspect your skin. Has anything changed recently? Have moles become larger or started to itch or bleed? Turn your head from side to side. This stretches the skin over the muscles, making lumps easier to see.
Neck: Run your fingers under your jaw and feel along the large muscle on either side of your neck using the balls of your fingers. Are there any swellings? Does everything feel the same on both sides?
Lips: Use your index, middle fingers and thumb to feel the inside of your mouth. Pull your upper lip upwards and bottom lip downwards to look inside for any sores or changes in colour. Use your thumb and forefinger to feel around and inside your lips checking for any lumps, bumps or changes in texture.
Gums: Use your thumb and forefinger on the inside and outside of the gum working your way around the gum to feel for anything unusual.
Check your cheeks: Open your mouth and pull your cheeks away, one side at a time, with your finger to look inside. Look for any red or white patches. Use your finger in the cheek to check for ulcers, lumps or tenderness. Repeat on the other side. Your tongue can be helpful to locate sore areas, ulcers or rough patches.
Tongue: Gently pull out your tongue and look at one side first and then the other. Look for any swelling, ulcer or change in colour. Examine the underside of your tongue by lifting the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth.
Floor of mouth: Lift your tongue up and look underneath then look at the floor of your mouth for any unusual colour changes. Gently press your finger along the floor of your mouth and underside of your tongue to feel for any lumps, swellings or ulcers.
Roof of mouth: Tilt back your head and open your mouth wide to check the roof of your mouth. Look to see if there are changes in colour or ulcers. Check for changes in texture with your finger.