Oral Cancer Exam

In Canada, there were over 4000 new cases of oral cancer diagnosed in 2013.  Oral cancer has a five year survival rate of only 63, which is only average amongst different cancer types.  Fortunately, oral cancer can be diagnosed with a regular cancer exam provided at Higson Dental Group.  If caught early, oral cancer can be successfully treated.

Oral cancer is a pathologic process, which begins by producing no symptoms making it hard to recognize without an exam. There are many types of oral cancer, including teratoma, adenocarcinoma and melanoma. The most common form of oral cancer is malignant squamous cell carcinoma, which typically originates in the lip and mouth tissue. There are many other places in which oral cancers occur, including: the tongue, salivary glands, throat, gums, and face.

What to Expect

The oral cancer examination is completely painless, and is part of a routine dental exam.  Some of the signs that will be investigated are red patches and sores. Red patches on the floor of the mouth, or the front of the tongue, and bleeding sores which fail to heal easier, can be indicative of cancerous changes. Leukoplakia is a hardened white or gray, slightly raised lesion that can appear inside the mouth, and may be cancerous. Signs of these will be examined as well. Finally, soreness, lumps or the general thickening of tissue anywhere in the throat or mouth can signal pathologic signs, and will be examined.

If abnormalities, lesions, lumps, or leukoplakia are apparent, our practice will implement a treatment plan that is right for you. Most often, pictures are taken and forwarded to an Oral Pathologist at the University of Alberta Hosptital in Edmonton for tentative diagnosis.  Treatment options vary according to the precise diagnosis, but may include: excision, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

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.