According to the American Cancer Society, over 30,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each year, with over 7000 of these cases resulting in the death of the patient. Fortunately, oral cancer can be diagnosed with an annual cancer exam provided by our doctors. If caught early, oral cancer can be effectively treated.
Oral cancer is a pathologic process, which begins by producing no symptoms making it hard to recognize without an exam. There are many types of oral cancer, including teratoma, adenocarcinoma and melanoma. The most common form of oral cancer is malignant squamous cell carcinoma, which typically originates in the lip and mouth tissue. There are many other places in which oral cancers occur, including: the tongue, salivary glands, throat, gums, and face.
Cancer is a disease that occurs when uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in the body occurs. These cells are referred to as cancerous and malignant. Oral cancer occurs on the lips (usually the lower lip), inside the mouth, salivary glands, tonsils, on the back of the throat, oesophagus, and the tongue and soft tissues of the mouth.
What are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer ?
A sore on the lips, gums, or inside of your mouth that bleeds easily and doesn't heal
A lump or thickening in the cheek that you can feel with your tongue
Loss of feeling or numbness in any part of your mouth
White or red patches on the gums, tongue or inside of mouth
Difficulty chewing or swallowing food
Soreness or unexplained pain in your mouth, or feeling that something is caught in your throat with no known cause
Swelling of the jaw causing dentures to fit poorly
Change in voice
The oral cancer examination is completely painless. The doctors of Ace Family Dental will look for abnormalities and feel the face, glands, and neck for unusual bumps. Lasers may be used to highlight pathologic changes, and can “look” below the surface for spots and lesions invisible to the naked eye. Some of the signs that will be investigated are red patches and sores. Red patches on the floor of the mouth, or the front of the tongue, and bleeding sores which fail to heal easier, can be indicative of cancerous changes. Leukoplakia is a hardened white or gray, slightly raised lesion that can appear inside the mouth, and may be cancerous. Signs of these will be examined as well. Finally, soreness, lumps or the general thickening of tissue anywhere in the throat or mouth can signal pathologic signs, and will be examined.
If abnormalities, lesions, lumps, or leukoplakia are apparent, our doctors will implement a treatment plan that is right for you. Treatment options vary according to the precise diagnosis, but may include: excision, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
It is also important to note that over 75% of oral cancers are linked with avoidable behaviors such as smoking, tobacco use, and excessive alcohol consumption. The doctors of Ace Family Dental can provide you with literature and options about quitting dangerous behaviors such as tobacco use.