An oral cancer exam is painless and quick—it takes only a few minutes. Here's what to expect:
- Preparing for the exam: If you have dentures (plates) or partials, you will be asked to remove them.
- Your doctor or dentist will inspect your face, neck, lips and mouth.
- With both hands, he or she will feel the area under your jaw and the side of your neck, checking for unusual lumps.
- Next, your doctor or dentist will have you stick out your tongue to check for swelling or abnormal color or texture.
- Using gauze, he or she will then gently pull your tongue to one side, then the other, to check the base of your tongue. The underside of your tongue will also be checked.
- In addition, he or she will look at the roof and floor of your mouth, as well as the back of your throat.
- He or she will then look at and feel the insides of your lips and cheeks to check for possible signs of cancer, such as red and/or white patches.
- Finally, your doctor or dentist will put one finger on the floor of your mouth and, with the other hand under your chin, gently press down to check for unusual lumps or sensitivity.
This information was developed by the National Institute of
Dental and Craniofacial Research with the National
Cancer Institute, components of the National Institutes
of Health in Bethesda, Md.
See other items in the "Oral Cancer: What African American Men Need to Know" campaign
Brochure: Are You at Risk for Oral Cancer? What African American Men Need to Know
This brochure alerts African American men to their risk for oral cancer, lists the signs and symptoms, and discusses the importance of early detection.
Fact Sheet: Oral Cancer Causes and Symptoms & The Oral Cancer Exam
This fact sheet contains additional information about oral cancer plus an extensive list of references to the medical literature.
Poster (8.5" x 11")
This 8.5x11 poster is designed to raise African American men's awareness of their risk for oral cancer and the importance of early detection.
Video: Are You at Risk for Oral Cancer? What African American Men Need to Know (3:10)
Audio: Oral Cancer Public Service Announcements
Widgets: African American Men and Oral Cancer
This information is not copyrighted. Make as many copies as you need.
NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health®