When you visit our office for an evaluation, we will be looking at your gums, teeth and all your anatomical structures like the tongue, floor of the mouth, lips, palate, cheeks etc. Possible abnormal lesions observed may be:
- White patches of the oral tissues (leukoplakia)
- Red patches (erythroplakia)
- Red and white patches (erythroleukoplakia)
- A sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- A mass or lump in the neck
- An abnormal lump or thickening of the tissues of the mouth
- Chronic sore throat or hoarseness
If during the exam we find any abnormalities, we will then inform you of the need to do a biopsy.
A biopsy is a diagnostic procedure by which we remove a sample of tissue (incisional biopsy) or all of the abnormal tissue (excisional biopsy) for examination under the microscope by a pathologist. Early detection and treatment of a malignant lesion provides a better chance for a cure.
Abnormal results could indicate:
- Non-cancerous lesions
- The lesion may be a cyst, irritated tissue, overgrowth of tissue or a traumatic lesion.
- Oral cancer
- The most common causes for oral cancer are tobacco and alcohol. Other causes include poor oral hygiene, irritation caused by ill-fitting dentures and rough surfaces on teeth, poor nutrition, some chronic infections caused by bacteria or viruses, and combinations of these factors.
After you receive adequate local anesthesia, we will remove a small piece of the lesion (or the entire mass of abnormal tissue) to send to a laboratory for microscopic analysis. The biopsy report not only helps establish a diagnosis, but also enables us to develop a specific plan of treatment. We will review and discuss the report with you at your follow-up visit.
After the biopsy you may experience some discomfort or soreness for a few days. Occasionally, over-the-counter analgesics (e.g. Ibuprofen or Tylenol) may be used. Most people are able to return to work later the same day.