There are more than 30,000 cases of oral cancer diagnosed each year according to the American Cancer Society. Over 7,000 of these cases result in death. But the good news is that oral cancer can be diagnosed easily and can be treated effectively when caught early.
Cancer begins with an asymptomatic stage when signs of cancer are not noticeable. This makes it very important to have oral cancer exams performed by your dentist. There are several types of oral cancer such as teratoma, adenocarcinoma, and melanoma, but the most common type is malignant squamous cell carcinoma. This type of oral cancer usually begins in mouth and lip tissues.
Oral cancers commonly occur in the mouth cavity and maxillofacial regions such as:
- Salivary Glands
Reasons to have an oral cancer exam
When oral cancer is found early, treatment is generally very effective. Dr Yash performs an oral cancer screening as part of your routine cleaning and checkup.
During an oral cancer exam, the oral and maxillofacial areas are carefully examined for signs of pathologic changes. Any abnormalities that are noticed in the tongue, mouth, gums, or surrounding area should be evaluated by your physician as quickly as possible.
The exam itself is a completely painless process. Dr Yash will look for abnormalities and feel the glands, neck, and face for unusual bumps. At times lasers are used to highlight any abnormal signs and lesions below the surface which would not be visible to the naked eye.
We look for:
- Sores and discoloration: Red patches on the front and sides of the tongue, or on the floor of the mouth, and pink or white patches that fail to heal, and sores that have not healed and bleed easily can indicate pathologic changes.
- Leukoplakia: These are hardened, slightly raised gray or white lesions that can be anywhere inside the mouth. Leukoplakea can become cancerous if no treated.
- Lumps: Soreness or the thickening of tissue anywhere in the mouth or throat can signal problems.
If abnormalities are found, Dr Yash will put into action a treatment plan. A biopsy of the area may be done. This will evaluate and identify the precise grade and stage of the abnormality.
Oral cancer is considered to exist when the basement membrane of the epithelium has been broken. The cancer can spread to other areas in the oral and maxillofacial region. Treatment varies according to the specific diagnosis but may include radiation, excision, or chemotherapy.
It is important to recognize that around 75 percent of oral cancer is linked with behaviors such as tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption. Dr Yash can provide information on smoking cessation and making lifestyle changes.
If you have any questions or concerns about oral cancer, Dr Yash would be happy to discuss them with you. Please call or contact our office.