The goal of a professional oral pathology screening is to diagnose cancerous conditions early, when treatment is easier and has a higher success rate.
Your dentist and oral surgeon both check for oral cancer during your routine visits. But conducting monthly self-screenings is important too, as there’s always a chance you could develop cancer of the mouth or throat between appointments.
How can you tell if you need to schedule a professional oral pathology screening? Here, we explain the symptoms to watch for — and why you shouldn’t panic if you spot a potential sign of oral cancer.
When to Contact Your Oral Surgeon for a Screening
You should make an appointment for a professional oral pathology screening anytime you notice a change in any part of the oral cavity. This includes the inside of your lips and cheeks, your gums, your tongue, the roof of your mouth and your oropharynx, which is comprised of your throat, tonsils and soft palate.
Signs that call for an immediate professional screening include:
- Mouth sores that aren’t healing
- White, red or discolored patches
- Lumps, thickened tissues or rough spots
- Lesions that bleed when touched
- Numbness in the lips or inside the mouth
- Trouble moving the tongue or swallowing
- Prolonged sore throat or hoarseness
- Feeling like something is stuck in the throat
Why You Shouldn’t Assume You Have Oral Cancer
If you spot an abnormality in your mouth or throat tissues, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer.
Several noncancerous conditions cause strange growths and lesions to develop. Yours could be any of the following:
- Cold sores
- Canker sores
- Benign bone tumor
Your sores or irregularities could also be due to medication you’re taking. Aspirin, sulfa drugs and beta blockers are among the medicines known to create mouth abnormalities in some patients.
Schedule a Screening with a Specialist in Oral Pathology
The earlier that cancer is detected, the greater the odds of successful treatment. Regular professional screenings are essential, as experts in oral pathology and conditions of the mouth, face and neck can spot warning signs that patients may miss.
If your last dentist or oral surgeon appointment was quite some time ago — or if you’re concerned about symptoms you’ve noticed — schedule a professional screening. For expert care in the greater east central Indiana area, turn to Richmond Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.
Our board-certified surgeons have been diagnosing and treating oral cancer and noncancerous conditions of the mouth and throat for more than a decade. You’ll be in good hands with our professional team — contact our office in Richmond, Indiana, to schedule an oral pathology screening today.