Oral Cancer Exam

According to the American Cancer Society, over 30,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each year, with over 7000 of these cases resulting in death of. Fortunately, oral cancer can be diagnosed with an annual cancer exam provided by Drs. Monzingo, Allain or Yu. If caught early, oral cancer can be effectively treated.

Oral cancer is a pathologic process, which begins with few or no symptoms making it hard to recognize without an exam. There are many types of oral cancer, including teratoma, adenocarcinoma and melanoma. The most common form of oral cancer is malignant squamous cell carcinoma, which typically originates in the lip and mouth tissue. There are many other places in which oral cancers occur, including: the tongue, salivary glands, throat, gums, and face. 

What to Expect

The oral cancer examination is completely painless. Drs. Monzingo, Allain or Yu will look for abnormalities and feel the face, glands, and neck for unusual bumps. Some of the signs that will be investigated are red patches and sores. Red patches on the floor of the mouth, or the front of the tongue, and bleeding sores which fail to heal, can be indicative of cancerous changes. Leukoplakia is a hardened white or gray, slightly raised lesion that can appear inside the mouth, and may be cancerous. Signs of these will be examined as well. Finally, soreness, lumps or the general thickening of tissue anywhere in the throat or mouth can signal pathologic signs, and will be examined.

If abnormalities, lesions, lumps, or leukoplakia are apparent, we will often recommend a biopsy where a small piece or all of the involved tissue is removed and sent to Calgary Lab Services for microscopic evaluation.  Depending on the diagnosis, referral to another dental or medical specialist will be considered.

It is also important to note that over 75% of oral cancers are linked with avoidable behaviors such as smoking, tobacco use, and excessive alcohol consumption. Drs. Monzingo, Allain or Yu can provide you with literature and options about quitting dangerous behaviors such as tobacco use.