This 1-Minute Home Health Check Could Save Your Life

This 1-Minute Health Check Could Save Your Life

( – The American Cancer Society estimates that 53,260 people will develop some form of oral cancer this year, with 10,750 dying from it. Symptoms might be easy to overlook at first, but a 1-minute self-exam could help identify potential problems.

Oral cancer can spread fast, so the sooner it’s detected, the better a person’s chances of recovering. Take the following measures to stay a step ahead if this swift assassin does strike.

Monthly Self-Exam

Take a minute out of every month to perform this simple home health check:

  • Look in a mirror, checking the face and neck carefully for differences in shape between the sides.
  • Check lips and skin for inconsistencies in color, texture or shape.
  • Feel both sides of the neck for lumps or sore spots.
  • Feel the Adam’s apple while swallowing; it shouldn’t move sideways.
  • Examine the inside of the mouth using a flashlight. Pull tongue to the sides and the lips out to examine the undersides of each. Remove any dentures or appliances to get an unobstructed look at every surface.
  • Run a finger over gums and other surfaces to feel for suspicious lumps.

Oral cancer often looks like white or red patches or sores that won’t heal. Lesions may cause loose teeth, bleeding in the mouth, a lump in the neck or ear pain.

People with this condition might also notice numbness in certain areas of the mouth, changes in the way dentures are fitting or have a hard time moving the tongue or jaw. Some sufferers find they have difficulties swallowing. See a doctor about any unusual or concerning findings.

Reducing Oral Cancer Risks

People who smoke and drink heavily increase their chances of developing this form of cancer. Infection with human papillomavirus-16 (HPV-16) can also add to the risks. People who’ve had excessive exposure to the sun may develop cancer on the lip. Oral cancer is most common in men and women older than 40, so it’s important for people in this age group and above to be especially watchful for signs of illness.

A small amount of prevention might have huge impacts. We each know our bodies best, but we can’t find any dangerous changes if we don’t look. They might not replace regular visits at the doctor’s office, but self-exams are quick and easy, and they might reveal changes that can’t wait for an annual exam. What’s 1 minute or so every month when the results could be lifesaving?

~Here’s to Your Health & Safety!

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