Early Cancer Detection

Dental Braces

Early detection of oral cancer and its importance: it subtypes of head and neck cancer, is any cancerous tissue growth located in the oral cavity. It may arise as a primary lesion originating in any of the oral tissues, by metastasis from a distant site of origin, or by extension from a neighboring anatomic structure, such as the nasal cavity or the maxillary sinus.
There are several types of oral cancers, but around 90% are squamous cell carcinomas, originating in the tissues that line the mouth and lips. Oral or mouth cancer most commonly involves the tongue. It may also occur on the floor of the mouth, cheek lining, gingiva (gums), lips, or palate (roof of the mouth).
Most oral cancers look very similar under the microscope and are called squamous cell carcinoma. These are malignant and tend to spread rapidly.

An annual screening for oral cancer is important, it is possible that you will notice some change in your mouth or throat that needs examination between your annual screenings. Contact your doctor or dentist immediately if you notice the following symptoms

  • Lesion in the mouth that does not heal within two weeks
  • A lump in the cheek
  • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth
  • Difficulty in chewing or swallowing
  • Difficulty in moving the jaw or tongue
  • Numbness of the tongue or other area of the mouth
  • Swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable

Only a professional will be able to tell you definitively. Remember that dentists are trained in this simple, quick screening, which involves the examination of the oral cavity as a whole and not just your teeth.
Your doctor will also check the mouth for white patches, red patches, ulcerations, lumps, loose teeth, and review your dental x-rays for abnormalities. Be sure to tell the doctor if you have been a tobacco user in any form. Tobacco use is implicated in more than 75% of all oral cancers.
After the physical examination of your mouth, if your doctor finds any areas that are suspicious, he may recommend a biopsy. This is simply taking a small portion of the suspicious tissue for examination under a microscope.

In a biopsy, the doctor will remove part or the entire lesion depending on its size and his ability to define the extent of it at this early stage. The sample of tissue is then sent to a pathologist who examines the tissue under a microscope to check for abnormal or malignant cells.
The area where the plug was removed will not bleed much, and heals normally without the need for any stitches since it is so small.