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Bruce M. MacNicol, DDS, MS, FRCD (C)
Michael T. Jackson, BA, DDS, MSc, FRCD (C)
Andrew P. Gater, HBSc, DDS, FRCD (C)
Mohammad Mokhtari, HBSc, DDS, FRCD (C)
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Signs of Oral Cancer to Call Your Oral Surgeon About Immediately

Posted on 4/15/2017 by Tricia Ramsay
A woman smoking a cigarette and damaging her teeth.
Oral cancer affects over 40,000 people every year. It is a lethal cancer, and only half of those diagnosed survive past five years.

The reason behind the low survival rate is because oral cancer is often detected too late in its development.

While your dentist performs oral cancer screenings at your regular exam, you only have these visits twice a year. This makes noting anything unusual in your mouth and contacting your oral surgeon immediately imperative.

What is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer is cancer of the mouth. It doesn't strike one location specifically. It can manifest itself anywhere - the tongue, roof or floor of the mouth, cheeks, gums, as well as the entrance to the throat. There are several factors that can increase your risk of developing oral cancer, including:

•  Tobacco products.
•  Excessive drinking.
•  Family history.
•  Certain strains of HPV.

Symptoms That Warrant a Call to the Oral Surgeon

Your dentist performs oral cancer screenings at each of your visits, but oral cancer will not wait to conveniently show up during these times. It can strike any time, so noting any of the following symptoms and calling your oral surgeon is important:

•  Sores that won't heal.
•  Red or white patches in your mouth.
•  Unusual growths.
•  Changes in your bite.
•  Difficulty chewing, speaking or breathing.
•  Bleeding.
•  Lumps in your neck.

Diagnosing Oral Cancer

Your oral surgeon will be able to diagnose oral cancer. You will be given a complete exam, which may include an oral exam, checking around the outside of your mouth and neck, X-rays, CT scans, PET scans, MRIs and a soft tissue biopsy.

A soft tissue biopsy involves the removal of abnormal tissue and allows the surgeon to examine it up close. If it is determined to be cancer, your treatment can begin right away.

Early detection of cancer is imperative for diagnosis and treatment of oral cancer. If you notice any abnormalities in your mouth, do not delay. Contact our office immediately.

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