Oral cancer can be a very serious medical condition. The earlier it is caught, the better. In a large majority of our patients, we will spot the signs that can indicate a possible problem. We have combined an oral cancer screening into every dental health examination, whether you meet the more common symptoms or not. We will perform a thorough evaluation, looking at the entire anatomy of your mouth, including soft tissues, lips, the tongue and the uvula. If we spot something that flags us as abnormal, we will perform a biopsy to gain more information.
What we Look for During Oral Cancer Screenings
Our dental team will look for a variety of potential abnormalities including:
- Lumps or Bumps: Any unexplained hard lumps or bumps will want to be examined closer. This may be a sign of infection, or of a larger issue. We will discuss these with you during your evaluation.
- Soft Tissue Texture: Patches of rough skin may be an indication of a potential issue.
- Mouth Sores: Sores that do not seem to heal, or continuously reopen, is something that we will want to take a closer look at.
- White or Red Spots: These white and red spots can potentially indicate the growth of oral cancer. We will want to evaluate their progress.
Cancerous cells can potentially be a large problem, and we will want to examine them more closely. This will mean an evaluation of your overall health and any medications that you are currently taking, digital x-rays, blood tests, and a biopsy. The results of these tests will help us decide the next step and what treatment may be necessary.
The Oral Biopsy Procedure
Your biopsy will be a simple procedure, takes very little time, and should be mostly painless. We will remove some, or all, of the abnormal tissue, and then send the tissue to a pathology lab for further examination. Some patients may need to have some stitches placed after removing the tissue. After a period of 1-2 weeks, we will receive the results of your biopsy from the pathology lab. If the information indicates possible trouble, we will recommend follow-up care. Your biopsy information should identify both oral cancerous cells as well as non-cancerous cells indicating a mouth sore.
We perform most biopsies while under local anesthesia. This helps alleviate any discomfort during the procedure. The process of your biopsy begins with removing either a small or large amount of tissue, and the repair often includes the area being closed up with stitches. For most patients, the stitches will dissolve within two weeks. Your biopsy procedure is fast, and the entire event should take approximately 15 minutes.
After the Oral Biopsy Procedure
Once the numbness wears off, the area may be sore for a few days. In most cases, over-the-counter pain relief medication is all that is necessary. In some very limited cases, we may find it necessary to prescribe pain relief medication. Our dental office will contact you in about two weeks to discuss your biopsy results, and we will be happy to offer more information if needed.
Call us today at (503) 620-6133 to schedule an oral cancer screening or if you have questions about oral cancer, biopsy’s, or oral pathology.