Dental Tips Blog


What Does Oral Cancer Look Like?

Posted in Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is a serious condition that can often go undiagnosed until it is too late. Early signs of oral cancer are often very small and painless, making them impossible for people to realize that there is anything wrong. Catching abnormal tissue or precancerous tissue as early as possible will help treatment methods to be more effective, with better outcomes. Risk factors can include sun exposure, alcohol or tobacco use, but many cases of oral cancer are found in people with no risk factors at all. Even viruses like HPV is found to be linked with oral cancers.

Abnormal and precancerous tissues can appear as areas that are:

  • White
  • Red
  • Raised or depressed
  • Bilateral (occurring on only one side of the mouth)
  • Have irregular borders
  • Sores that do not heal within 2 weeks
  • Lumps that feel fixed in place
  • Trouble swallowing

Your dentist will conduct a thorough oral cancer screening at every dental check up. If any areas appear abnormal, they will be measured and noted. If necessary, a follow up appointment will be made to assess them for any change. Occasionally a biopsy or tissue sample may be needed, which will be sent to a laboratory for clinical tests.

The earlier tissues can be diagnosed, the better the outlook is for cancer treatments. Regular dental appointments are perhaps the very best way to identify oral cancer concerns before they become too severe. Since appointments usually take place every 6 months, dentists are at an advantage to finding and diagnosing premalignant tissues in their patients’ mouths. Oral cancer screenings may be visual, or they may include advanced screening technology. Whatever method your dentist uses, it’s worth the time. An oral cancer screening is perhaps the very most important part of your dental care routine.

Posted on behalf of Dr. David Janash, Park South Dentistry


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