Pathology and Biopsy

What is oral pathology?

The inside of the mouth is normally lined with a special type of skin (mucosa) that is smooth and coral pink in color. Any change in this appearance could be a warning sign for a pathological process. The most serious of these is oral cancer.

In certain cases, a biopsy is indicated to complete or confirm a diagnosis of a lesion. The specimen is then sent to the pathology laboratory for analysis. The pathologist then gives the surgeon a detailed report of the histological and macroscopic study of the specimen.

What are the signs?

The following can be signs at the beginning of a pathologic process or cancerous growth:

  • Reddish patches (erythroplakia) or whitish patches (leukoplakia) in the mouth
  • A sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily
  • A lump or thickening on the skin lining the inside of the mouth
  • Chronic sore throat or hoarseness
  • Difficulty in chewing or swallowing

These changes can be detected on the lips, cheeks, palate, and gum tissue around the teeth, tongue, face and/or neck. Pain does not always occur with pathology, and curiously, is not often associated with oral cancer. However, any patient with facial pain and/or oral pain without an obvious cause or reason may also be at risk for oral cancer.