In general, you should take note of any changes occurring in the gums, the tongue, the floor or roof of the mouth, the skin on the inside of the cheek or any swelling in the bony areas of the mouth or face. You should look for discoloration, ulcerations and growths. If you or your dentist see anything unusual, your dentist will refer you to Dr. Miller for a consultation to diagnose the condition. While the large majority of such growths are benign (not cancerous), it is often necessary to determine this for sure with an oral biopsy. Furthermore, many benign growths may require removal.
To perform an oral biopsy, Dr. Miller will surgically remove a small piece of tissue from the area in question. This sample will be sent to a lab where it will be examined under a microscope and analyzed according to the kinds of cells it contains. Dr. Miller will review the results of the biopsy at your post-op visit, and will discuss whether or not any additional treatment is needed.
While an annual screening for oral cancer is important, it is possible that you will notice some changes in your mouth that needs examination between your annual screenings. You are the most important factor in an early diagnosis.
You should always contact Dr. Miller if you notice the following symptoms in yourself or a loved one:
- A sore or lesion in the mouth that does not heal within two weeks.
- A lump or thickening in the cheek or lips.
- A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, cheek or roof of the mouth.
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing.
- Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue.
- Numbness of the tongue, lips or other area of the mouth.
- Swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable.
To learn more about the risk factors, signs and symptoms and early detection of oral cancer, we encourage you to visit the Oral Cancer Foundation’s award winning, informative website: www.oralcancerfoundation.org