If the examination reveals something suspect, or an abnormal area that needs to be investigated further, the dentist will tell you. Most of the time, they will offer some , correct any factors that could be causing the 'abnormal' appearance, such as an ill- fitting denture or a fractured tooth and arrange to see you again in say two weeks to see if things have healed up. I always show the patient in the mirror where the 'abnormal' spot is and get them to keep an eye on it.
A picture with an intra-oral camera can help for comparative purposes to see if the area is healing and shrinking.
While a dentist may suspect a particular lesion is malignant, there's no way to tell by looking alone, since benign and malignant lesions may look identical to the naked eye.
Most of the time, the lesion has largely disappeared when the patient returns. If it hasn't or if the area looks particularly cancerous, then referral for a tissue biopsy of that area is needed. This will confirm or rule out the presence of any pre-cancerous or cancerous cells.
If you need a biopsy, the doctor or dentist performing it will be able to answer any questions you may have such as:
- How long will it take to heal?
- How much tissue is going to be removed?
- Will it be sore afterwards? How should I look after it?
- When will I know the results?
The diagnosis of oral cancer is made when a malignant biopsy is confirmed. This is when the cancer cells are seen to have broken the basement membrane of the epithelium under the microscope i.e. there is evidence of the abnormal cells invading surrounding tissues. In this case, the lesion will grow and spread if not dealt with to other areas of your mouth and body.
At this point you will be referred to a specialist team for further tests to evaluate the stage and size of the tumour
and to plan for the management of the condition as it develops.
For more information see this useful website; medicinenet.com
provided by a government resource.