According to the American Cancer Society, over 30,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each year, with over 7,000 of these cases resulting in the death of a patient. Thankfully, oral cancer can be diagnosed with an annual cancer exam provided by Dr. Cristoforo. If caught early, oral cancer can be effectively treated.
Oral cancer is a pathologic process, which begins by producing no symptoms. This makes it difficult to recognize without a professional 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 lipl and mouth tissue. However, there are many other places in which oral cancer can occur, including the tongue, salivary glands, throat, gums, and face.
What to Expect During an Oral Cancer Examination
The oral cancer examination is painless. Dr. Cristoforo will look for any abnormalities and feel the face, glands, and neck of the patient for any unusual bumps. Diagnostic aids may be used to highlight pathologic changes, and can "look" below the surface for spots and lesions invisible to the naked eye.
Some signs that will be investigated are red patches and sores. Red patches on the floor of the mouth or front of the tongue as well as bleeding sores that fail to heal can both be indicative of cancerous changes. Leukoplakia is a hardened white or gray, slightly raised, lesion that can be cancerous that appears inside the mouth. Signs of these will be examined as well. Finally, any soreness, lumps, or general thickening of tissue anywhere in the throat or mouth will be examined as well, as they, too, can be pathologic signs.
If abnormalities, lesions, lumps, or leukoplakia are present, Dr. Cristoforo will initiate a treatment plan that is right for you. Treatment options vary according to the diagnosis, but may include excision, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
It is also important to be aware that over 75% of oral cancers are linked with avoidable behaviors such as smoking, tobacco use, and excessive alcohol consumption. Dr. Cristoforo can provide you with information and options about quitting dangerous lifestyle choices.