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Oral Cancer Exam

According to research conducted by the American Cancer Society, more than 30,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each year.  More than 7,000 of these cases result in the death of the patient.  The good news is that oral cancer can easily be diagnosed with an annual oral cancer exam, and effectively treated when caught in its earliest stages.

Oral cancer is a pathologic process which begins with an asymptomatic stage during which the usual cancer signs may not be readily noticeable.  This makes the oral cancer examinations performed by the dentist critically important.  Oral cancers can be of varied histologic types such as teratoma, adenocarcinoma and melanoma.  The most common type of oral cancer is the malignant squamous cell carcinoma.  This oral cancer type usually originates in lip and mouth tissues.

There are many different places in the oral cavity and maxillofacial region in which oral cancers commonly occur, including:

  • Lips
  • Mouth
  • Tongue
  • Salivary Glands
  • Oropharyngeal Region (throat)
  • Gums
  • Face

Reasons for oral cancer examinations

It is important to note that around 75 percent of oral cancers are linked with modifiable behaviors such as smoking, tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption.  Your dentist can provide literature and education on making lifestyle changes and smoking cessation.

When oral cancer is diagnosed in its earliest stages, treatment is generally very effective.  Any noticeable abnormalities in the tongue, gums, mouth or surrounding area should be evaluated by a health professional as quickly as possible.  During the oral cancer exam, the dentist and dental hygienist will be scrutinizing the maxillofacial and oral regions carefully for signs of pathologic changes.

The following signs will be investigated during a routine oral cancer exam:

  • Red patches and sores – Red patches on the floor of the mouth, the front and sides of the tongue, white or pink patches which fail to heal and slow healing sores that bleed easily can be indicative of pathologic (cancerous) changes.

  • Leukoplakia – This is a hardened white or gray, slightly raised lesion that can appear anywhere inside the mouth. Leukoplakia can be cancerous, or may become cancerous if treatment is not sought.

  • Lumps – Soreness, lumps or the general thickening of tissue anywhere in the throat or mouth can signal pathological problems.

Oral cancer exams, diagnosis and treatment

The oral cancer examination is a completely painless process.  During the visual part of the examination, the dentist will look for abnormality and feel the face, glands and neck for unusual bumps.  Lasers which can highlight pathologic changes are also a wonderful tool for oral cancer checks.  The laser can “look” below the surface for abnormal signs and lesions which would be invisible to the naked eye.

If abnormalities, lesions, leukoplakia or lumps are apparent, the dentist will implement a diagnostic impression and treatment plan.  In the event that the initial treatment plan is ineffective, a biopsy of the area will be performed.  The biopsy includes a clinical evaluation which will identify the precise stage and grade of the oral lesion.

Oral cancer is deemed to be present when the basement membrane of the epithelium has been broken.  Malignant types of cancer can readily spread to other places in the oral and maxillofacial regions, posing additional secondary threats.  Treatment methods vary according to the precise diagnosis, but may include excision, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

During bi-annual check-ups, the dentist and hygienist will thoroughly look for changes and lesions in the mouth, but a dedicated comprehensive oral cancer screening should be performed at least once each year.

If you have any questions or concerns about oral cancer, please contact our practice.

Testimonials.

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Testimonials

Dr. K was kind enough to examine my situation and create a mouth night guard for me. The guard really helped to ease the pain of grinding my teeth at night. She helped explain what was happening to my jaw/joints/teeth and was able to create the guard in a few days. Thanks Dr. K and Ana!

Kristina L.

I sought out dental services by Dr. Kasparian after hearing about her through a colleague at work. She came highly recommended. Happy to say that I've been a satisfied patient of hers since January 2012. My oral hygiene wasn't the best that it could've been back when I first started going to Dr. Kasparian. She was very direct in her recommendations and I appreciated her honesty in describing to me the reality of the situation in how I was going to need to improve my oral hygiene. I have taken her consultations seriously and my teeth are the best they've been. She is the type of dentist who makes you want to follow her advice because she knows what she's talking about. I recommend her to anyone who wants superior service for dental hygiene. Also, her staff are always so nice!

Marissa B.

I was referred to Dr. Kasparian through a coworker after avoiding the dentist for well over 3 years (oops). Upon my first appointment with her, I quickly realized how thorough and knowledgeable she was about dentistry and improving the state of my mouth.

Because it had been years since receiving any dental service, my teeth required extensive help. Dr. Kasparian and her staff were wonderful, patient, and friendly throughout the whole experience. I actually enjoyed going to the dentist, knowing that my oral hygiene was in the hands of a dentist with vast experience in the field and who truly had my best interests in mind.

Now that my teeth are at their healthiest they've been in ages, I must highly recommend Dr. Silvia Kasparian to anyone in need of a dentist. She'll make sure your teeth receive all the attention they require and will set you up with an awesome oral hygiene regimen to get your smile looking as beautiful as possible.

Also, once you've completed all of your necessary treatments, you get a free professional grade teeth whitening kit that is legit. I'm telling you... your smile will be looking beautiful once Dr. Kasparian is through with it.

Chelsea M.

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