Many times, sores thought to be possibly cancerous turn out to be only a sign you need periodontal treatment or need to exercise better dental hygiene. But any mouth sore that persists for more than a couple weeks and is causing you concern is worth getting checked out by a professional periodontist with experience in diagnosing oral cancer and in distinguishing it from less serious conditions.
There are many risk factors to oral cancer, ranging from smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, high sun exposure, just being male (men are twice as likely to get oral cancer), and a genetic history of the disease in your family.
But the fact is, anyone can potentially develop some form of oral cancer, and it's important to the most common symptoms of this disease to quickly identify it and maximize the chances of curing it. These symptoms include:
- Inflammation, bumps, "erosion," or tissue thickening inside the mouth, on the gums, or on the lips.
- White, red, or white-and-red spots in the mouth.
- Unusual bleeding, numbness, or hyper-sensitivity in the affected areas.
- Mouth sores that bleed easily and fail to heal in about 2 weeks or less.
- A chronically sore throat, a feeling as if something were caught in your throat, or difficulty swallowing.
- Unexplained ear pain.
Diagnosing Suspected Oral Cancer
During a regular periodontal check up, you will typically be screened for oral cancer. But this can be done in a special appointment for that purpose as well.
Your periodontist will feel inside your mouth for lumps or bumps that shouldn't be there. He will also examine your neck, face, and lips.
Any mouth sores or periodontal or other interior mouth tissue that is discolored will be examined in detail.
All of the symptoms listed in the section above and others as well will be checked for. And your periodontist will be skilled in determining the nature of all potential symptoms he may discover or you may tell him about.
A biopsy will often be needed of the suspect tissue to determine for certain if it's cancerous. Your periodontist may use a brush, scalpel, or laser biopsy, depending on the situation.
If it's obvious to your periodontist that there is no mouth or throat cancer, a biopsy may not be needed; but it will be needed to confirm any diagnoses that are less than certain without it.
If you or a loved one have mouth sores or any other symptoms that could indicate some form of oral cancer, do not hesitate to contact periodontist Dr. Raymond A. Kenzik today, in Ormond Beach, FL, to schedule an exam appointment. He will make every effort to schedule your appointment as soon as possible in these kinds of cases.