Unfortunately, oral cancers are some of the most serious and yet often overlooked types of cancers. They often go undetected until they are in their advanced stages and the damage is extensive.
Oral cancer can affect any part of the mouth. They can appear on the lips, tongue, throat, cheeks and floor of the mouth. Their texture, color and shape can vary. Most people think that the cancer has to be hard and enlarged, almost swollen-like. That is not always the case. Often we see the exact opposite, soft and non-swollen. They can appear as a painful, ulcerated sore that just won't seem to heal. In other cases, there is no pain or bleeding, just an area that does not go away. The bottom line is that anything that does not appear normal, needs to be evaluated and should never be "left alone".
In all oral cancers, the rule of thumb is early detection. The sooner a suspicious lesion is identified and treated, the greater the chance for removal and recovery. In our office, every patient gets a thorough oral cancer screening as part of their hygiene visit. As an additional tool in our exam, we utilize the VELscope Vx screening system. This system uses Fluorescence Visualization to aid in early detection of abnormal areas. If the cause of the suspicious lesion cannot be identified, then a biopsy is usually the next step.
Always remember, never let any suspicious ulcer, lump or growth sit for any length of time. Have it evaluated as soon as possible. Early detection and evaluation is the key!!