MAKING THE WORLD BETTER. ONE SMILE AT A TIME
The inside of the oral cavity is normally lined with a special type of epithelium (mucosa) that is smooth and coral pink in colour. Any alteration in this appearance could be a warning sign for a pathological process. The most serious of these is oral cancer. The following can be signs at the beginning of a pathologic process or cancerous growth:
- Reddish patches (erythroplakia) or whitish patches (leukoplakia) in the mouth. Or a combination of red and white patches.
- A sore (ulcer) that fails to heal and bleeds easily. Generally, we allow two weeks for an ulcer to heal before considering biopsy.
- A lump or thickening on the mucosa lining the inside of the mouth.
- Chronic sore throat or hoarseness. Difficulty in chewing or swallowing.
- Swelling of lymph nodes in the head and neck region, in the absence of an upper respiratory tract infection.
These changes can be detected on the lips, cheeks, palate, and gum tissue around the teeth, tongue, face and/or neck. Pain does not always occur with pathology, and curiously, is not often associated with oral cancer. However, any patient with facial and/or oral pain without an obvious cause or reason may also be at risk for oral cancer.