Oral Cancer: Understanding the Signs, Diagnosis, and Treatment

What Is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer is a serious disease that affects the mouth, throat, and surrounding areas. This type of cancer can be difficult to detect in its early stages, but early detection is crucial for a better outcome. At Southern Cal Smiles, Dr. Fredericks and her team are dedicated to providing the highest level of care for their patients, including early detection and treatment of oral cancer. 

Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer

The signs and symptoms of oral cancer can be subtle and may not be obvious at first. Some of the most common signs include:

  • A sore or irritation in the mouth that doesn’t heal
  • A lump or thickening in the cheek or on the gums
  • White or red patches in the mouth or throat
  • A sore throat or feeling that something is caught in the throat
  • Difficulty swallowing or speaking
  • A change in the way the teeth fit together when the mouth is closed
  • A change in the way the tongue moves
  • Numbness or pain in the face, jaw, or tongue
  • Swelling in the jaw or lymph nodes in the neck
  • A change in the voice

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see Dr. Fredericks at Southern Cal Smiles for an evaluation.

Young woman getting her teeth examined - dentist in woodland hills

Diagnosis of Oral Cancer

The diagnostic process for oral cancer begins with a visual and physical examination of the mouth, throat, and neck. The examination may include a thorough evaluation of the tongue, gums, cheeks, and floor of the mouth. Dr. Fredericks may also check your lymph nodes for any swelling or tenderness.

If Dr. Fredericks suspects oral cancer, she may recommend a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. A biopsy is a procedure that involves removing a small sample of tissue from the affected area to be examined under a microscope.

Treatment of Oral Cancer

The treatment options for oral cancer will depend on its stage and your overall health. The most common treatment options include:

  • Surgery: Used to remove the tumor and some of the surrounding tissue. This may include removing part of the jaw, tongue, or other affected areas.
  • Radiation therapy: Uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. This treatment may be used in combination with surgery or as a standalone treatment.
  • Chemotherapy: Uses drugs to kill cancer cells. This treatment may be used in combination with surgery or radiation therapy.
  • Targeted therapy: Uses drugs that target specific proteins or genetic changes in cancer cells. This treatment may be used in combination with other treatments.

Please note that the treatment options and outcome will depend on your stage of cancer and the condition of your health. Dr. Fredericks and her team at Southern Cal Smiles will work with you to develop the best treatment plan for your situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Schedule Your Oral Cancer Screening 

The key to successful oral cancer treatment is early intervention. By scheduling regular dental visits you can ensure that you’re screened for oral cancer on a yearly basis. To schedule an appointment with our Woodland Hills dentist, contact our dental office today.