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 indicate the beginning of a pathologic process or a potentially cancerous lesion:
- Reddish patches (erythroplakia) or white patches (leukoplakia) in the mouth or lips.
- A sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily.
- A lump or thickening of the tissues inside the mouth.
- Chronic sore throat or hoarseness.
- Difficulty in chewing or swallowing.
Have You Noticed Warning Signs for Oral Cancer?
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These changes can be detected on the lips, cheeks, palate (roof of the mouth), 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.
We would recommend performing an oral cancer self-examination monthly and remember that your mouth is one of your body’s most important warning systems. Do not ignore suspicious lumps or sores.