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    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. These changes can be detected on the lips, cheeks, palate, gum tissue around the teeth, tongue, face, and/or neck. The most serious of these is oral cancer.

    What are some potential signs of pathology in the mouth?

    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 chewing or swallowing

    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. If appropriate, the treating surgeon will perform a biopsy on any suspicious lesions.

    Can I perform a self-examination?

    We would 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; please contact us so we may help you.

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