Oral and Facial Pathology

Due to environmental exposures (excess sun exposure, tobacco use, chemicals, etc.), hereditary factors or even viruses, it is possible to develop abnormal tissue growth on the skin, on the tissue lining the mouth or tongue, or even within the bone of the jaws. These growths can represent a wide variety of pathologic lesions and can be either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancer).  While the vast majority of pathologic lesions observed turn out to be benign (non-cancerous), it is important to have them evaluated appropriately to determine if treatment, and what type,  is warranted.  Abnormal growths can take on a number of appearances:

  • Reddish patches (erythroplasia) or whitish patches (leukoplakia) on the face or in the mouth.
  • A sore that fails to heal, and bleeds easily.
  • A lump or thickening of the skin or mucosa lining the mouth.
  • Chronic sore throat or hoarseness. Difficulty in chewing or swallowing.
  • Enlargement of portions of the upper or lower jaw
  • Loosening of a tooth or teeth
  • Altered sensation or numbness of the lip or tongue 

Pain does not always occur with pathology, and curiously, is not often associated with facial or oral cancer. However, any patient with facial and/or oral pain without an obvious cause or reason may also be at risk for oral cancer.

Tobacco use in any form significantly increases the risk of oral cancer. We will always recommend tobacco cessation to minimize the risk of oral cancer. There are numerous products available that can aid in overcoming what can be a difficult addiction. Please feel free to speak with Dr. Spanganberg or his staff if you would like help in determining what options will serve you best.

We would recommend appropriate sun protection to prevent long-term risks of skin cancer. The greatest risk for developing skin cancer rises from frequent, and serious sun burns (2nd degree or greater), especially suffered as a child.  Prevention is a priority, but it also important to perform routine self-examinations to evaluate for any abnormalities or changes. Do not ignore suspicious lumps or sores. An easy rule to remember when evaluating potential skin lesions is the ABCDE method:

  • Asymmetry
  • Border Irregularity
  • Color Changes
  • Diameter of 1/4 inch (5mm) or greater
  • Evolution (gradual changes in the lesion)

Remember, when in doubt, get it checked out by an appropriate professional!

For more information about oral pathology or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Porter, Dr. Mack and , call our Gilbert office at ☎ or our Yuma office at ☎ .

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