Oral Cancer Exam

According to the American Cancer Society, over 30,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each year, with over 7000 of these cases resulting in the death of the patient. Fortunately, oral cancer can be diagnosed with an annual cancer exam provided by Dr. Funderburk. The good news: if caught early, oral cancer can be effectively treated.

Oral cancer is a pathologic process, which begins by producing no symptoms, making it hard to recognize without a professional dental 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: your tongue, salivary glands, throat, gums, and face.

What to Expect

The oral cancer examination is completely painless. Dr. Funderburk will look for abnormalities and feel the face, glands, and neck for unusual bumps. Lasers may be used to highlight pathologic changes, and can “look” below the surface for spots and legions invisible to the naked eye. 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, an applicable treatment plan will be developed that is right for you. 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. Here at Comfort Dental, we care about you and your oral health. Let us provide you with literature and options for quitting dangerous behaviors such as tobacco use.