Oral cancer is a subgroup of head and neck cancers that affects the lining of the lips, mouth, or upper throat. According to the NIDCR, about 49,700 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed every year. Most of those cases are men over the age of 40, but women and people of all ages are affected by oral cancer as well.
Oral cancer is mostly connected to tobacco and alcohol use, HPV, age, sun exposure, and diet. Symptoms include:
- A sore, irritation, lump, or white or red patch on the mouth, lip, or throat
- Feeling like something is constantly stuck in your throat
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Difficulty using your jaw or tongue
- Swelling in or around the jaw
- Numbness in or around the mouth
- Consistent pain in one ear (not helped by sinus medication or ear rinse)
If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your oral surgeon, dentist, or doctor to schedule an exam and consultation.
In a perfect world, oral cancer wouldn’t exist at all, but the next best thing is early detection. Routine oral cancer screenings are imperative for catching the disease in the earliest stage. In as little as five minutes, your dentist or oral surgeon can complete an exam that could save your life.
If your oral surgeon sees anything suspicious, a biopsy will be recommended and sent to a lab for testing.
Once the biopsy is complete, your oral surgeon, along with other healthcare providers, will develop a personalized treatment plan. To create the best treatment plan for your situation, your oral surgeon may consult with or refer you to other health care professionals, including:
- Head and neck surgeon
- Ear, nose, and throat doctor
- Medical and radiation oncologist
- Your general dentist
- Plastic surgeon
Between appointments, you can perform an oral cancer self-exam each month at home by following these simple steps:
- Get a flashlight and a mirror
- Remove dentures or clear braces
- Look and feel inside your lips and the surface of your gums, front and back
- Feel the roof of your mouth, inside of your cheeks, and all surfaces of your tongue (underneath, too)
- Feel for lumps or enlarged glands on both sides of your neck and under your jaw
If anything feels abnormal, contact your general dentist or oral surgeon immediately.
When detected early, oral cancer can be treated with surgery or radiation therapy. A combination may be necessary.
Your oral cancer treatment plan could include any of the following procedures:
- Tumor resection
- Mohs micrographic surgery
- Full or partial mandible resection
- Neck dissection
- Pedicle or free flap reconstruction
- Gastrostomy tube
- Dental extraction and implants
You can learn more about these surgical procedures here.
They are most often combined with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy to increase chances of success.
Choosing an Oral Surgeon
This long list of medical procedures can be disheartening, but when you choose the right oral surgeon, he or she will help you feel comfortable and confident about your treatment plan.
Oral surgeons like Dr. Chis Tye, who have decades of training and experience in diagnosing and treating oral cancer are hard to find. Dr. Tye also trained in reconstructive procedures, cosmetic surgeries, and dental care that is sometimes necessary after oral cancer treatment.
When you’re in the hands of the best oral surgeon, you can trust in the quality of care and treatment he or she provides.
To schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Tye, contact our Colleyville, TX office today at 817-754-8002.