Home Oral Cancer Exam

Oral cancer accounts for approximately 27,000 deaths each year in the United States. Smokers and drinkers and tobacco chewers are much more likely to contract oral cancer than other people. Early detection can and will improve your chances for a cure.

Only five minutes of your time spent in monthly examination of your mouth and neck may save your life or prevent the need for extensive medical treatment.

Outside of Face and Neck

Look at and feel both sides of face and neck for symmetry.
Look and feel for lumps, bumps, sores, color changes, and other abnormalities with your fingers.
Feel both sides of face and neck; paying particular attention to any differences from one side to the other.


With lips lightly touching, look for sores, lumps, or dry crusted areas.
With your thumb and index finger at each corner of the lip, roll the lip down to see the wet surface.
Look for sores, blisters, or color changes.
Then feel the entire surface with your thumb and index finger, feeling for lumps and bumps.
Roll the upper lip with your thumb and index finger to see the wet surface.
look for any abnormal changes and feel for any lumps and bumps.


Pull up both sides of lip to expose upper gums.
Look for redness, swelling, sores, or lumps.
Repeat the procedure for the lower gums.
Run your index finger on the inner and outer surfaces of the upper and lower gums feeling for irregularities.
Pull the corner of your mouth back with your index finger and look at the gum tissue in the back of your mouth.
Look and feel for lumps, bumps, and other abnormalities.


Grasp cheeks between your thumb and index finger.
Feel up and down the entire cheek.
Turn your head slightly so that you can look at the inside of the cheek.
Look and feel for lumps, bumps, sores, color changes, and other abnormalities.

Tongue, Throat, and Roof of Mouth

Stick tongue out as far as possible to one side.
With index finger feel along the side as far as possible.
Repeat on other side.
Look and feel for lumps, bumps, sores, color changes and other abnormalities.
Stick tongue straight out and down as far as possible.
Look at and feel top of tongue.
Look for color changes and lumps.
Tilt head back and look at roof of mouth and throat.
Look at throat, soft palate and uvula (finger-like projection at back of throat).
Look at roof of mouth.
Look for any changes, especially deeply reddened areas.

Floor of the Mouth and Tissues Under Tongue

Open your mouth as wide as possible.
Place hand outside the mouth under the chin.
Raise the tissue on the floor of the mouth with the index finger or use thumb from the other hand.
Feel for lumps which seem firm and immovable.
Look for cold sores and other abnormalities.

At the end of your examination, record any abnormalities that you have noticed. If you notice such changes which do not go away in 10-14 days, visit your Dentist.