Oral Pathology & Oral Cancer Screenings
Oral pathology is a branch of dentistry that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and abnormalities of the oral cavity and surrounding structures. Oral cancer is a type of cancer that affects the tissues of the mouth, including the lips, tongue, gums, and cheeks. It is important to detect oral cancer early, as it can be more difficult to treat if it is allowed to progress.
One way to detect oral cancer early is through an oral cancer screening. An oral cancer screening is a simple and painless examination of the mouth, head, and neck that is performed by a dental professional. It is often done during a routine dental check-up, but can also be done separately if the patient is experiencing symptoms or has a high risk of oral cancer.
Symptoms of oral cancer may include:
- Sores or bumps in the mouth that do not heal
- White or red patches on the gums, tongue, or inside of the cheeks
- Pain or difficulty when swallowing or speaking
- A feeling of a lump in the throat
- Swelling or lumps in the neck
- A persistent sore throat or hoarseness
Risk factors for oral cancer may include:
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Smoking tobacco products
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
- A weakened immune system
- A history of oral cancer in the family
- Excessive exposure to the sun (for lip cancer)
During an oral cancer screening, the dental professional will examine the inside of the mouth, including the lips, gums, tongue, and cheeks, for any signs of cancer. They may also feel the neck and head for lumps or swelling. If any abnormalities are found, the patient may be referred for further testing, such as a biopsy, to determine if cancer is present.
If oral cancer is detected early, the chances of a successful treatment and recovery are much higher. Treatment options may include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, depending on the stage and location of the cancer. It is important to follow the treatment plan recommended by the healthcare team and to attend follow-up appointments to ensure that the cancer has not returned.
Preventing oral cancer is also important. Quitting smoking and reducing alcohol consumption can greatly reduce the risk of oral cancer. Practicing good oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing regularly and visiting the dentist for regular check-ups, can also help prevent oral cancer and other oral health issues.
Oral pathology is a field of dentistry that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and abnormalities of the oral cavity and surrounding structures. Oral cancer is a serious and potentially deadly disease that can affect the tissues of the mouth. An oral cancer screening is a simple and painless examination that can help detect oral cancer early, when it is most treatable. Quitting smoking and reducing alcohol consumption, as well as practicing good oral hygiene, can help prevent oral cancer. If you are experiencing symptoms or have a high risk of oral cancer, be sure to speak with your dental professional about an oral cancer screening.