When either attending your dental check-up or requesting assistance with anomalies that you are unsure about from self-checking, and there is something that causes your dental practitioner concern, the first thing is not to panic. Your dental practitioner will have experience of dealing with anomalies, and fairly regularly it turns out to be something benign.
Being observant and understanding your own mouth and throat will mean that if there is anything that causes concern, it will be caught early.
Acting upon any concerns quickly, will increase your chances of a full recovery, with as little damage to you as possible.
To diagnose mouth cancer, your dental practitioner has several options on the table, which will be able to confirm whether the anomaly is cancerous, and if so, how far has it spread in the area.
Trained to deal with all areas of the mouth and throat, your dental practitioner will be able to see if there is a cause for concern with oropharyngeal cancers and refer you to your GP or hospital for further investigations.
If there is a cause for concern, your dental practitioner or hospital will perform a biopsy. The biopsy is the removal of an element of the tissue, to take it for testing and see if it contains any cells that would suggest there is a risk of cancer. The sample will be sent to a pathologist for testing. Following the results coming in, you will return to your dentist and they will discuss whether there needs to be further treatment.
Oral Brush Biopsy
Some dental practitioners are now using a new process which is becoming a part of the routine check up when there is a small concern that something is not quite as it should be. This is the oral brush biopsy which is a small brush used to gather some cells from an area to be sent to pathology. This will gather a few cells from the suspicious area and if the results return as there is worth more investigation then your dental practitioner or hospital will perform a full biopsy.
The human HPV virus has been known to promote cancer, and a sample may be taken from your biopsy to test for the HPV virus. Knowing if someone has HPV in their system which can determine the stage of the cancer if it is present. HPV does promote a specific kind of oral cancer which has flat scale like cells, rather than the more common forms.
An x ray can show any abnormal findings within the mouth and neck, so this would be an option that your dentist might suggest.
CAT/ MRI scan
CAT or MRI scans will provide a three-dimensional computer image of your head and neck. Both require you to attend a local hospital department for your scan and will involve being moved into the machine whilst it takes and builds the image.
Following the relevant tests have been carried out, your dental practitioner, GP or hospital will discuss the results and the options available to you.
For more information on the diagnosis of mouth cancer and a free mouth cancer check up at Mark Tangri Dental Excellence please contact us here.
Mouth Cancer Action Month is held in November every year and is supported by the Mouth Cancer Foundation and the British Dental Health Foundation.