WHAT ARE PRECANCEROUS AND CANCEROUS ORAL LESIONS?
Precancerous oral lesions are abnormal cell growths in or around the mouth. They may become cancer. Cancerous oral lesions are life-threatening cell changes in the mouth. These lesions need to be detected early to give you a better chance for a cure.Your treatment will depend on the nature of the oral lesion. Talk to your dental or medical professional about which treatment may be best for you. Precancerous or cancerous oral lesions may be removed with surgery. In some cases, your speech, swallowing, and chewing may be affected. Your dental or medical professional can tell you more about this. The signs and symptoms of precancerous and cancerous oral lesions may include:
• A sore in the mouth that doesn’t heal within 3 weeks.
• White or red lesions or ulcers on the tongue, gums, or lining of the mouth that don’t go away.
• Tenderness or pain in the mouth that persists
See your dental professional about any sore or pain in the mouth that doesn’t go away in 3 weeks. He or she will ask questions about your medical and dental history. Your entire mouth, including your lips and teeth, will be checked.
A biopsy is the best way to find out if a lesion is precancerous or cancerous. During a biopsy, the area around the lesion will be numbed. A part of the lesion will then be removed, and sent to a lab to be examined under a microscope. Along with a biopsy, other tests may be helpful in making the diagnosis. They include staining and cytology.
Staining. The area in your mouth around the lesion may be stained with a special dye. The dye binds to cancerous cells, staining only these cells. After a few hours, the color from the dye will disappear.
Cytology. Your dental professional may scrape the surface of the lesion with a brush to obtain cells. This is called a brush biopsy. Anesthesia (numbing medication) is not needed. The cells are then sent to a lab, where they are examined for cancer.
Your treatment will depend on the nature of the oral lesion. Talk to your dental or medical professional about which treatment may be best for you. Precancerous or cancerous oral lesions may be removed with surgery. In some cases, your speech, swallowing, and chewing may be affected. Your dental or medical professional can tell you more about this.
Radiation therapy. This treatment uses waves of energy to kill cancerous cells. Treatment is most often given for 5 to 7 weeks. Patients may have some side effects, such as dry mouth or mouth pain. But these can usually be controlled.
Combination therapy. Both surgery and radiation therapy may be used to treat advanced cases of oral cancer.
Chemotherapy. This treatment uses special chemicals to kill cancerous cells. It may be used along with combination therapy in advanced cases of oral cancer. Chemotherapy may make you less able to fight infections for a while.
The follow-up care consists of having your mouth checked regularly. Your dental professional may want to see you more than twice a year, especially if you have precancerous lesions. Precancerous oral lesions and oral cancers found in their early stages and treated have an excellent chance of being cured.