According to research conducted by the American Cancer society, more than 30,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each year. 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 Dr. Latthe critically important. Oral cancers can be of varied histologic types. The most common type of oral cancer is the malignant squamous cell carcinoma.
There are many different places in the oral cavity and maxillofacial region in which oral cancers commonly occur, including:
Oropharyngeal Region (throat)
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. Dr. Latthe can provide literature and education on making lifestyle changes such as 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 Dr. Latthe as quickly as possible. During the oral cancer exam Dr. Latthe 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 changes.
Leukoplakia – A white or gray line or striations in the mouth. It can be a slightly raised lesion that can appear anywhere inside the mouth. Leukoplakia can be a pre-cancerous sign. If left untreated it may become cancerous.
Lumps – Soreness and lumps in the head and neck region can signal a problem. Do not ignore these signs.
Oral cancer exams, diagnosis and treatment
The oral cancer examination is a completely painless process. During the visual part of the examination, Dr. Latthe will look for abnormalities and feel the face, glands and neck for unusual bumps.
If abnormalities, lesions, leukoplakia or lumps are apparent, Dr. Latthe will make the appropriate referral and will assist you throughout your treatments. Treatment methods vary according to the precise diagnosis
During bi-annual check-ups Dr. Latthe will thoroughly look for changes and lesions in the mouth. 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 call our office to schedule an examination appointment.