The inside of the mouth is normally lined with a special type of skin (mucosa) that is smooth and coral pink in color. Any alteration in this appearance could be a warning sign for a pathological process. The most serious of these is oral cancer. The following can be signs at the beginning of a pathologic process or cancerous growth:
- Reddish patches (erythroplakia) or whitish patches (leukoplakia) in the mouth.
- A sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily.
- A lump or thickening on the skin lining the inside of the mouth.
- Chronic sore throat or hoarseness. Difficulty in chewing or swallowing.
These changes can be detected on the lips, cheeks, palate, and gum tissue around the teeth, tongue, face and/or neck. Pain does not always occur with pathology, and curiously, is not often associated with oral cancer. However, any patient with facial and/or oral pain without an obvious cause or reason may also be at risk for oral cancer.
We would recommend performing an oral cancer self-examination monthly and remember that your mouth is one of your body’s most important warning systems. Do not ignore suspicious lumps or sores. Please contact us so we may help.
Risk for Oral & Pharyngeal Cancer
Tobacco use and daily alcohol use are well known risk factors for oral pharyngeal cancer. The combination of the two together exponentially increases the risk for oral cancer over the use of one or the other alone.
In recent years there is an increasing incidence of this type of cancer in young healthy patients who do not smoke or drink regularly. This appears to be mediated by certain strains of Human Papilloma Virus. Please do not assume that just because you are young and healthy, that oral pharyngeal cancer is not possible.
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