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Oral Cancer Screening

Oral Cancer Screening Downtown Toronto

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer, also known as oral cavity cancer, is a subtype of head and neck cancer consisting of cancerous tissue growth in the oral cavity. The condition may arise from a cancerous lesion in any part of the oral tissue. Norton Dental Downtown  in Downtown Toronto provides oral cancer screening with every dental examination.

There are over 28,000 cases of oral cancer diagnosed each year.  Over 7,000 of these cases result in death. Oral cancer can be found in the lips, tongue, salivary glands, gums and throat.

Possible Signs of Oral Cancer

The beginning of oral cancer often does not reveal any obvious signs of disease. Initially the cancer is often painless and difficult to detect. Successful treatment of oral cancer must be performed in the earliest stage possible. Any abnormalities suspected in the tongue, mouth, gums, or surrounding tissue must be assessed by a dental provider immediately. Below we have provided a list of symptoms.

It is important to note that these symptoms do not always represent the presence of cancer. The following signs sometimes represent the early stages of oral cancer OR they may also be associated with other medical conditions.
  • Soreness in the throat
  • Sharp pain in one ear
  • Difficulty moving the mouth and jaw
  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing
  • Continuous pain within the mouth
  • Bumps, sores, and ulcerous lesions in the mouth
  • Bump in the neck
  • Partial numbness in the mouth or jaw
  • Bleeding from the gum, cheeks, tongue

Oral Cancer Check-up, Diagnosis and Treatment

In order to properly diagnose oral cancer, you must see a dentist or doctor. In the unfortunate event that cancer is suspected, Dr. Ammar Taimish (Downtown Toronto Dentist) will refer you to an oncologist (cancer specialist). Dr. Ammar Taimish (Downtown Toronto Dentist) will begin examining your mouth and look over your medical history to best diagnose and devise a treatment plan. If the suggested treatment does not prove effective within two weeks, a biopsy of the area will be taken to test for cancer.

A malignant biopsy will reveal a confirmation of oral cancer. A clinical evaluation will then be performed to assess the grade and stage of the cancer. The cancer may spread to other areas of the mouth and body creating secondary cancers with even greater consequences. The oncologist will perform additional testing such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans to help determine the path of the cancer. The consistency and composition of the oral cancer may be discovered with the use of ultrasounds. After careful diagnosis and testing, Dr. Ammar Taimish (Downtown Toronto Dentist) and doctor will devise a treatment plan based on the available information to best help defeat the oral cancer.

Treatment for oral cancer will be determined by the stage and grade of the cancer, then surgery, chemotherapy (intravenous drugs) or radiation therapy (type of X-ray) will be performed accordingly. In cases where the oral cancer has progressed, treatment may call for surgery to remove tumors in the bone tissue found in the roof of the mouth and jaw. Cancer that has spread to other parts of the body will require the removal of tumors as well in the respected areas. A neck dissection will allow for the removal of tumors within the neck.

When surgical treatment is either not necessary or cannot be performed, specialists may choose radiation therapy or chemotherapy as an alternative. In some cases, a combination of the methods mentioned is used to fight the cancer. For example, sometimes radiation and chemo are additionally used in instances where surgery was unable to remove all of the cancer.

Treatment for oral cancer is often extensive and sometimes requires patients to undergo reconstructive surgery and/or speech therapy to restore the functionality and appearance of the affected regions. Some patients may need additional devices to enable them to speak properly.

Oral Cancer Prevention

The risk of oral cancer may increase with irritation to the gums, tongue or mouth. Self-examinations are strongly advised in order to quickly detect the any possibly abnormalities.

To perform self-examination, carefully assess the mouth in all areas including the gums, teeth, tongue, cheeks, roof of the mouth, and throat. The tissue underneath the lips should also be checked by lifting the lips to evaluate the inner tissue.


Symptoms of oral cancer can be confused with other medical conditions and can never replace the professional examination of a dentist or hygienist. Dental examinations are critical to the prevention of serious health problems and must be performed at least twice a year. It is the combination of self-assessment and regular dental visits that will strongly aid the early detection of oral cancer.