Oral Pathology

Oral Cancer Exam in Leesburg

The doctors of the Institute of Facial and Oral Surgery are well trained in the fields of dentistry, medicine, and surgery. They are uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat various pathologic conditions of the oral cavity. Despite the fact that oral cancer is more common than cervical cancer in the United States, there is currently no national screening program for oral cancer. Recent research suggests that the best chance of discovering a malignant or pre-malignant lesion in the oral cavity is through regular dental examinations.

Patients are commonly referred to Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons, often by their dentists, in order to evaluate suspicious lesions in the oral cavity. While the vast majority of these lesions are benign, the physician may recommend a biopsy. This is typically performed under local anesthesia on an outpatient basis, much like dental implants and other treatments. A representative sample of tissue is obtained and sent to a pathologist for microscopic evaluation. This process generally takes seven to ten days, after which your surgeon may or may not recommend further treatment.

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Oral lesions:

The inside of the mouth is normally lined with a special type of skin (mucosa) that is smooth and coral pink in color. 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 (erythroplasia) or whitish patches (leukoplakia) in the mouth
  • A sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily
  • A lump or thickening on the skin lining the inside of the mouth
  • Chronic sore throat or hoarseness
  • Difficulty in chewing or swallowing

These changes can be detected on the lips, cheeks, palate, gum tissue around the teeth, tongue, face, and/or neck. Pain does not always occur with pathology and often is not associated with the early stages of 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.

We recommend performing an oral cancer self-examination monthly. Remember that your mouth is one of your body’s most important warning systems. Do not ignore suspicious lumps or sores. Should you be concerned about anything that seems abnormal in your oral cavity, please contact the Institute of Facial and Oral Surgery so we may be of assistance.


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