Oral Pathology: Looking for Oral Cancer

Oral pathology specifically focuses on diseases—usually serious ones—that begin with or revolve around various oral tissues and structures. In some cases, this may involve severe periodontitis and the destruction of your teeth’s supportive tissues, while in others, it may involve functional issues in the jaw’s joints and muscles. Often, however, oral pathology is the route through which we often can detect subtle abnormalities that mark the beginning and early stages of oral cancer.

Oral Cancer: The Facts

Oral cancer is not talked about as frequently as perhaps it should be, considering that it affects over 43,000 more people every year. Though oral cancer (which can describe cancer in any of your oral tissues) often has a high mortality rate, the risk is significantly decreased when it is detected and treated early.

Oral Health Examinations

During a routine dental checkup, your general dentist should perform a comprehensive oral cancer screening to check for lumps, swollen glands, ulcers, and other potentially malignant irregularities. If trouble is detected, you may be referred to an expert for further diagnosis. As oral surgeons, we can perform biopsies on suspicious oral tissues to determine if they are cancerous, and whether or not you should seek immediate treatment.

What to Look For

You can and should perform self-examinations for oral cancer between your dental visits, looking carefully inside of your cheeks, the roof and the lining of your mouth for red/white patches, lumps, or thick or rough areas of tissue. If you develop oral cancer, you may notice a wealth of other symptoms, including;

  • Bleeding oral tissues
  • Sores or lesions that don’t heal
  • Pain in your tongue, or in other tissues when you bite and chew
  • A persistently sore throat
  • A lump or feeling of obstruction in your throat


Shawn Hofkes, DDS, is highly qualified to address complex issues, including the diagnosis and treatment of destructive gum disease. To schedule your appointment or consultation with Dr. Hofkes, contact us today by calling 562-584-4082. We proudly serve patients of all ages from Cerritos, Lakewood, Long Beach, Buena Park, and all surrounding communities.