Bite Back at Mouth Cancer


The do it yourself mouth cancer check that may save your life.

Are you checking your mouth for cancer once a month?  Do it regularly and save your life!



To mark the charity's 10th anniversary we launched a simple head and neck cancer check which can be carried out by anyone at home, at any time, but ideally once per month. 

There are easy to do self-check tests for a variety of other cancers and illnesses but there is nothing similar for mouth, head or neck cancer.  Carrying out a thorough head and neck cancer examination at home can save lives.  Be familiar with the signs and symptoms to look out for and learn to act sooner.  Early detection is key in the fight against mouth cancers.

Bite Back at Mouth Cancer shows members of the public what to look for and how to seek help if they find something out of the ordinary.  This will allow head and neck cancers to be caught earlier.  Head and neck cancers are particularly vicious and debilitating when detected late. With earlier detection, lives are saved and costs on the NHS will reduce dramatically. 


It is recommended that a self check is done once a month after teeth have been cleaned and by everyone over the age of 16 years.  The self-examination takes less than two minutes and might just save your life.

To carry out the mouth test the following will be required:

  • Mirror.
  • Good light source.
  • Clean fingers.
  • If you are worried ask a friend to check.

At each step you are inspecting and feeling for any lumps, red or white patches, changes in colour or texture, lingering ulcers or anything unusual.




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.




Run the fingers under your jaw and feel along the large muscle either side of neck using the balls of your fingers.  Are there any swellings?  Does everything feel the same on both sides?




Using 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.




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.




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 colour changes that are unusual.  Gently press your finger along the floor of your mouth and underside 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.


Make a note of anything unusual.  If you have recently had a cold, sore throat, ulcer or swollen glands, bitten or scolded yourself for example, these should heal within 3 weeks.  If you have any concerns visit your dentist or doctor to see if you need specialist advice.

The Mouth Cancer Foundation recommends that everyone over the age of 16 has a professional examination for early signs of mouth cancer, once a year, at their dentist.




The mouth cancer foundation would like to offer a special thank you to Mr Mahesh Kumar and Philip Lewis for their expertise and support with this campaign. Thanks also goes to Mahendra Patel and Dr Dawn Harper for helping the charity get the message out there.



Bite Back at Mouth Cancer Leaflet (PDF)
Bite Back at Mouth Cancer Poster (PDF)


Bite Back at Mouth Cancer was launched on 15th September 2015 by Channel 4's Embarrassing Bodies GP and TV Dr Dawn Harper. The campaign received some great coverage across all media platforms including, Sky News, ITV's Lorraine, LBC, numerous regional radio stations, dental trade publications and social media.