Oral Cancer Exam

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, over 30,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed yearly, with over 700 of these cases resulting in the death of the patient. At your initial examination and at each and every Periodontal Supportive Maintenance Care visit, Dr. Novack will perform an oral cancer screening examination. Fortunately, when oral cancer is diagnosed early, treatment tends to be very effective.

Oral cancer is a progressive pathologic process. At its early treatable stage, cancer is generally devoid of symptoms making it hard to recognize without a comprehensive examination. There are many types of oral cancers however, the most common form, malignant squamous cell carcinoma typically originates on the lips and mouth tissues. Other locations where oral cancers can develop include the tongue, salivary glands, throat, gums, and face. It is also important to note that over 75% of oral cancers are linked to avoidable behaviors such as smoking, tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption. Our office will be pleased to provide you with literature and contact information on support groups who can help you quit-stop such dangerous behaviors. Vigilance, regular examinations and effective treatment represent an unwavering patient centered protocol at our office.

What to Expect

You will be reassured to know that an oral cancer examination is completely painless. Dr. Novack will examine for abnormalities and palpate your face, glands, and neck for unusual bumps. The inside of the mouth is normally lined with a special type of tissue (mucosa) that is smooth and coral pink in color. Any alteration in its appearance could be a warning sign of disease (pathology), the most serious being oral cancer. All areas prone to cancer will be carefully examined. The following are common signs of a potential pathologic process or cancerous growth:

  • Reddish patches (erythroplasia) or whitish patches (leukoplakia) in the mouth.
  • A sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily.
  • A lump or thickening on the tissues lining the inside of the mouth.
  • Chronic sore throat or hoarseness.
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing.

If Dr. Novack notes an abnormalities, lesions, lumps, or leukoplakia, he will implement a treatment plan appropriate to manage your care. Should his examination reveal any possible cause for concern, Dr. Novack will perform a biopsy. Only with this measured approach can an accurate diagnosis be made. Treatment options vary dependent upon the diagnosis, but may include excision of the entire lesion, radiation therapy or chemotherapy.

Pain does not always occur when pathology is present and curiously, is often not associated with oral cancer at its early and still treatable stage. Any patient with facial and/or oral pain without an obvious cause or reason may be at risk for oral cancer.

Remember, your mouth represents one of your body’s most important warning systems. Do not ignore suspicious lumps or sores. Please contact us so we may help.