Like other medical disciplines, oral pathology helps identify and diagnose abnormalities, the most severe of which is the development of oral cancer. This form of cancer can develop anywhere inside the mouth including the insides of cheeks, lips, the tongue, and at the back of the mouth. Although oral cancer can be fatal, it is treatable if caught early. In fact, many patients whose oral cancer was detected at an early stage enjoy a favorable prognosis.
Symptoms and Signs of Oral Cancer
Symptoms of oral cancer vary from patient to patient and early warn signs can differ in regards to their location in the mouth. For cancers that form along the soft pink tissues in the mouth, also called mucosa, common symptoms include white – or red-colored patches, persistent sores that bleed easily, and the formation of lumps in tissue. Other signs of oral cancer—especially cancers located at the back of the mouth near the opening of the throat, are chronic hoarseness or a constant sensation of a sore throat. Some patients also report difficulty swallowing foods and beverages as well.
Causes of Oral Cancer
A number of factors contribute to the development of oral cancer. Common causes of this form of cancer include alcohol consumption and tobacco use. Chewing tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes are well-documented causes. A lesser-known cause of oral cancer, however, is HPV—a common virus that is transmitted sexually. Additionally, genetic predispositions play a role in the development of oral cancer.
The Importance of Oral Examinations
During oral examinations, oral surgeons look for signs of cancer. There also diagnostic tools available that can illuminate tissues in the oral cavity that are suspicious. If a suspicious lesion is found, our oral surgeons will remove a small portion of tissue and send it to a laboratory for analysis. This precautionary measure helps determine if an abnormality is malignant or benign. When oral pathology is needed, our oral surgeons are here to answer your questions, provide resources, and treat you with compassion.
To schedule an appointment with a member of our team, call our practice today.