Oral Pathology (Oral Cancer Screening)
What are Oral Cancer Screenings?
Oral cancer can affect adults of any and all ages. Some patients are more at riskof developing oral cancer, like those who smoke or use chewing tobacco. However, we often recommend an annual oral cancer screening as a way to keep up on your oral health. With early detection, treatment is both easier and more effective.
Why would Oral Cancer Screenings be needed?
Lifestyle factors like smoking and chewing tobacco can increase the risks of developing oral cancer. Even if you've quit smoking years ago, it is still important that annual screenings be done. The screening itself takes just minutes and can be helpful in preventing future oral health problems. Even if you're not a smoker or use other types of tobacco, we recommend having a screening done regularly.
Who is a candidate for Oral Cancer Screenings?
If you're a smoker or use other tobacco-related products, we recommend coming in for routine screenings. If cancer runs in your family, it's important to consider coming in to get checked. Most adults are good candidates for these screenings. The benefits of having a screening done far outweigh the few minutes it takes to have it performed in our office.
What happens during Oral Cancer Screenings?
First, Dr. Ismaili will perform a dental examination as usual. He then lifts the tongue to look underneath it. Dr. Ismaili will then visually scan the insides and outside of your mouth. We are looking for unusual lesions, bumps and plaque-like film that could be a sign of oral cancer. If we detect anything unusual, we will recommend that a biopsy be done to find out if the area is benign or cancerous. Keep in mind that the majority of cancer screenings come out negative, but it is still important to have them done so that we can catch a problem early on, if it's there.
More About Oral Pathology?
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 a pathological process. The most serious of these is oral cancer. The following can be signs at the beginning of a pathological 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 and/or 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.
We would recommend performing an oral cancer self-examination monthly. Remember that your mouth is one of your body’s most important warning systems. Do not ignore suspicious lumps or sores. Please contact us so we can assist you with any questions or concerns.