How to spot oral cancer

Watch for These Oral Cancer Warning Signs

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, about 132 Americans are diagnosed with oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer every day. The disease can affect anyone, so experts recommend conducting monthly self-checks. When caught early on, cancer is much more manageable.

Any changes or irregularities in the mouth warrant a professional oral cancer screening. If you notice any of the following warning signs, make it a priority to schedule an appointment.

How to spot oral cancer

Mouth Sores

In most cases, mouth sores aren’t cancerous — they’re canker sores, fever blisters or signs of another benign oral pathology condition. But sores that bleed or stick around for more than a couple of weeks are more likely to be the result of oral cancer.

Foul Breath

As a cancerous tumor forms, bacteria can get inside. When that happens, the breath develops a foul odor beyond your typical morning breath. So if brushing your teeth doesn’t eliminate your bad breath, scheduling an oral cancer screening is a good idea.

Discolored Patches

Red, white or mottled patches on your gums, tongue, cheeks or lips can be a sign of cancerous tumor development. Discolored lesions that don’t heal within two weeks or are surrounded by firm mouth tissues mean a heightened risk of cancer.

Persistent Hoarseness

Smokers, who are at high risk for oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer, often gradually develop raspy voices. But sudden hoarseness that lasts for two weeks or more — in a smoker or nonsmoker — can be a warning sign of cancer affecting the voice.

Mouth or Jaw Pain

Pain in the mouth or jaw may not point to oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer. But unexplained pain may be a red flag — and since pain should never be ignored, scheduling an appointment with a professional is essential.

Schedule an Oral Cancer Screening

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are the professionals to see for an oral cancer screening. The examination — which involves a visual and physical check of the mouth, jaw and neck — is quick and painless.

If any abnormalities are detected during the oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer screening, additional diagnostic testing is next. A number of cutting-edge procedures, including toluidine blue staining, fluorescence visualization, exfoliative cytology and brush biopsy, may be necessary to confirm or rule out a cancer diagnosis.

Have you noticed a change in your mouth? Or did your last professional screening take place more than six months ago? In either case, if you live in the greater central Indiana area, make an appointment with Dr. Garrison or Dr. Kelly at Northeast Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery.

Our board-certified oral surgeons have extensive experience in oral pathology diagnosis, often spotting irregularities before symptoms appear — and early detection offers the best chance for successful treatment. Contact our office in Indianapolis, Indiana, and schedule a professional oral cancer screening today.