If caught early, oral cancer can be effectively treated. For this reason, we are proud to assist our patients with an oral cancer screening. We want to help our patients survive this often fatal disease.
The inside of the mouth is normally lined with a special type of skin (mucosa) that is smooth and coral pink in color. Any alteration in this appearance could be a warning sign for an oral pathological process. The most serious of these is oral cancer. The following can be signs at the beginning of a pathologic process or cancerous growth:
• Reddish patches (erythroplasia) or whitish patches (leukoplakia) in the mouth.
• A sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily.
• A lump or thickening on the skin lining the inside of the mouth.
• Chronic sore throat or hoarseness. Difficulty in chewing or swallowing.
These changes can be detected on the lips, cheeks, palate, and gum tissue around the teeth, tongue, face and/or neck. Pain does not always occur with pathology, and curiously, is not often associated with oral cancer. However, any patient with facial and/or oral pain without an obvious cause or reason may also be at risk for oral cancer.
Other that annual cancer screenings, we recommend performing an oral cancer self-examination monthly. Do not ignore suspicious lumps or sores.
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. We can provide you with literature and options about quitting dangerous behaviors such as tobacco use.
What to Expect During an Oral Cancer Examination
The oral cancer examination is completely painless. Dr. Nasr or Dr. Saenz will look for abnormalities and feel the face, glands, and neck for unusual red or white lesions, sores, bumps, lumps or any thickening of tissue in the mouth and around it.
If abnormalities, lesions or lumps are apparent, Dr. Nasr or Dr. Saenz will recommend a biopsy. This allows us to remove a sample of the lesion so that the pathologist is able to look at it under a microscope and come up with a diagnosis. If cancer is diagnosed we will recommend the appropriate specialist for treatment. Treatment options vary according to the precise diagnosis, but may include: excision, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy.
We understand that this can be a scary and stressful time. However, we promise to be there for you every step of the way. If you ever need anyone to talk to, we are here for you. If you simply have questions, we will be happy to answer them. You can contact us at (504) 831-0800.