Diagnose oral cancer

If you have a sore in your mouth that just doesn’t heal, you may start to worry. In fact, if you have any type of mouth sore, discoloration, irritation or hoarseness which does not resolve within a two week period on its own, it should be considered suspect and worthy of further examination.

Many medical conditions, including all cases of cancer, are diagnosed by removing a sample of tissue from the patient and sending it to a pathologist for examination. This procedure is called a biopsy.  Biopsy is derived from Greek word “looking at the living cells”.

Historically, it has been difficult to determine which abnormal tissues in the mouth are worthy of concern. The fact is, the average person routinely has conditions existing in their mouths that mimic the appearance of pre-cancerous changes, and very early cancers of the soft tissues.  In the past, there was a tendency to watch these areas over an extended period to determine if they are dangerous or not. Unfortunately, this philosophy leads to a situation in which a dangerous lesion may continue to prosper and grow into a later stage, hard to cure cancer. Instead, we recommend having a biopsy done.


A biopsy is a simple procedure, usually completed in less than 15 minutes. Dr. Hamal, Periodontist will numb the area and then remove the soft tissue in question (usually this is very tiny, approximately 1mm). This tissue sample is then placed in a fixing solution and mailed to a pathologist. The pathologist will send a report to Dr. Hamal in about one week to 10 days to confirm his findings. If cancer cells are present, then Dr. Hamal will contact the patient and their family physician so that a course of treatment can be planned. If no cancer cells are present, then Dr. Hamal will contact the patient and generally no follow up care is necessary.

Identifying mouth sores and completing biopsies quickly is another great reason patients receive high quality care at HealthPark Dentistry. If a general dentist has a question about a mouth sore and is trying to decide if this gum tissue should have a biopsy, he can immediately invite Dr. Hamal to come in and take a quick look at the patient. At no extra fee, without an additional appointment, the patient has the benefit of a specialist evaluation and the three of them can make the decision together on whether to biopsy this tissue or not.


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