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What Does Oral Cancer Look Like?

Oral cancer is a real danger, with thousands of Americans losing the battle against it with every passing year; and yet, at the same time, it is one of the cancers most able to be successfully treated IF it is caught early enough. That’s why annual oral cancer screening, offered at many periodontal offices in Florida, is such a huge concern.
While your periodontist can’t replace professional cancer diagnosis centers, he can give you a complete oral exam that will detect any signs of possible oral cancer and then take or refer for a biopsy, if appropriate, to test any suspicious looking abnormalities in your mouth. If necessary, follow up testing by an oral cancer center would then be conducted. Early signs of some cancers are so small they can hardly be seen without magnification.

5 Common Patches To Watch For
While there are other symptoms to watch for too, the most obvious and important way to detect oral cancer is by finding and testing abnormal patches or bumps in one’s inner mouth, on the gums, on the tongue, on the tonsils, or in the back of the throat.

These areas are covered in what’s called “squamous cells,” and it is in these squamous cells that many oral cancers begin. Here are five types of “patches” that could be potentially cancerous:

  1. Thick, nodular patches. Sometimes, a patch may not be of a different coloration but may simply be thicker than normal and possibly showing some erosion. The are could also look dark, depressed, or even bleed.
  2. Red patches. When you find a bump or lump in your mouth that is reddish in color, perhaps bright red, and it feels velvety to the touch, there’s a good chance it could be pre-cancerous. About 75% to 90% of the time they are pre-cancerous.
  3. White patches. White, gray, or lighter colored patches can often be caused by a wide variety of skin irritants, such as tobacco smoke, chewing tobacco, or a broken tooth. Most of the time, they are not cancerous, but since they sometimes still can be, it is best to get a biopsy on them.
  4. Red-and-white patches. When red and white are mixed together in the same abnormal formation, it is very likely to be cancerous or to soon become cancerous. If such patches last more than 2 weeks, you should definitely see your periodontist for cancer screening. And don’t go off they’re being painless, because even cancerous patches may be painless in the early stages.
  5. Tongue sores. Sometimes, oral cancer develops right on the tongue, but it’s not always easy to see since it could be on the back of the tongue or the sides or underside of it. Also, oral cancer is frequently found below the tongue on the gums.

Canker Sores Or Oral Cancer?
It’s not uncommon for people to have benign sores, patches, and abnormalities in their oral cavity. And one of the most common type is known as a canker sore. Note that canker sores typically deliver a burning, stinging, or tingly sensation before they even appear; whereas, cancerous patches are usually painless and easy to not notice at first. Canker sores look like ulcers and tend to have a depressed center. They may look whitish, yellow, or gray in the middle and have reddish colored edges. Typically, a canker sore will vanish on its own within two weeks.

To set up an oral cancer screening with an experienced screener, contact Dr. Raymond A. Kenzik in Ormond Beach, FL, today.

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Ormond Beach Periodontics and Implant Dentistry is conveniently located on Nova Road in Ormond Beach, Florida. We help seniors, adults, and teenagers smile with confidence.

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