It is estimated that this year, in 2020, over 53,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer and over 10,00 will die from the disease. The Oral Cancer Foundation cites that the high mortality rates are not due to the cancer being difficult to diagnose, but rather that the cancer is often not detected until it has reached the advanced stages.
Like many other cancers, oral cancer can easily go undetected in the initial stages. There may not be any pain or difference in normal tissue until the cancer advances. In addition to your dentist’s regular checks, you should also look for any abnormities whilst brushing and flossing your teeth. If you detect and change in the soft pink tissue surrounding your teeth or gums then you should make an appointment with your dentist.
What are the warning signs of oral cancer?
You may notice the following symptoms if you have oral cancer:
Sores or lumps anywhere in your mouth or throat
Swelling or patches of thick tissue
Red or white lesions
Pain, numbness, or tenderness anywhere in your mouth
Pain in one of your ears without hearing loss
Problems with moving your jaw, chewing, swallowing, or speaking
Loose teeth with no dental cause
Lingering sore throat or hoarse voice
Be sure to make an appointment with your dentist if you have any of these symptoms
How is oral cancer diagnosed?
The dentist will also check to see if the tissue is showing any signs of abnormality. If he finds something suspicious then he will refer you to have a biopsy. The expert oral surgeons at Benicia Oral Surgery can provide the biopsy you need.
You can choose from a variety of biopsy services at Benicia Oral Surgery. They are minor outpatient procedures where the surgeon will take a small sample of the cells from the abnormal patch of tissue in your mouth. It may be possible to take the biopsy with only a local anesthetic.
The sample is taken by either scraping the cells from the surface of the tissue or, as in most cases, making a small incision or using a puncture tool. The sample will then be sent to a lab where it is tested and analyzed to diagnose the reason for the abnormality.
Most often, the analysis reveals benign or noncancerous conditions such as herpes, fungal infections and salivary problems. However, if the biopsy reveals that you have oral cancer then your surgeon will work together with your dentist and oncologist to remove the tumor and destroy all the abnormal cells.
How is oral cancer treated?
Usually, the surgeon will perform a simple excision to remove the abnormal cells. This is an outpatient procedure that usually requires a local anesthetic and sedation. You will be able to discuss your anesthesia options during your pre-operative consultation.
Like with many other cancers, it’s vital that it is detected and treated early before it spreads to other parts of the body. Make an appointment with your dentist as soon as you detect abnormal tissue in your mouth and ask for a referral at Benicia Oral Surgery. They welcome new patients and accept most insurance plans.