Because the inside of the mouth is normally lined with a special type of tissue (mucosa) which is smooth and pink in color, changes can easily be seen, and oral cancer can be detected in the early stages. Performing self-examinations regularly will help in early detection of pathologic processes. Ideally, self-examinations should be done once a month. If you are a smoker, drinker or a user of smokeless tobacco you are at a higher risk of oral cancer and should see an oral surgeon for an exam.
The following can be signs of a pathologic process or cancerous growth:
- Reddish patches
- Whitish patches
- A sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily
- A lump or thickening of tissue
- Chronic sore throat, hoarseness
- Difficulty chewing and swallowing