Oral Cancer: It is VERY Real!

September 18, 2012 | Posted in Education

This is certainly not the first time we have blogged about oral cancer and the importance of oral cancer checks. However, while our past blogs have talked about it as a simple concept, a recent event at our office brought home the significance of this very real condition.

An oral cancer check is a routine part of an exam performed by both the dentist and a hygienist. Virtually all dental offices conduct such exams, though they may not always inform you about it.

In our case, a member of our team was providing a routine, periodontal maintenance treatment to a young person under the age of 40 years. During the course of that treatment, she examined this patient for oral cancer.

At this time, she noticed the early stages of a lesion developing on the side of this patient’s tongue. She immediately recommended that the patient attend at the office of a specialist to have this lesion examined more closely. An appointment was scheduled for her/him.

The specialist examined the lesion and conducted a biopsy. Sure enough, the results came back positive for oral cancer!

Fortunately, this is a story with a happy ending. The oral cancer was caught early so it could be removed without the need for extensive, disfiguring surgery. More importantly, the specialist advised this patient that s/he was very lucky. The fact that the cancer was caught so early and that our team member insisted on follow up treatment may well have saved this person’s life!

Obviously, you do not normally associate the work of a dentist with life-saving treatment. But given that we work exclusively in your mouth, your dental office team is likely in the best position to help diagnose oral cancer. This is particularly the case given how difficult it is for many people to even find a family doctor!

This case certainly reminds us of the importance of an oral cancer check. It is a form of cancer that is being diagnosed more frequently today than at any time in the past. And like any cancer, if it is not diagnosed early, the results can be fatal!

Fortunately, we do not have to deal with advising patients they may have oral cancer on a daily basis! However, when it does happen, and we have a happy ending as we did in this case, it makes us feel that much prouder of the work we do!

We certainly hope we do not have to provide you with a similar diagnosis. However, we always recommend that you have an oral cancer check. Because having an oral cancer check is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr.  Martin LaBoissonniere

Dental Surgeon