HEALTH ALERT!  For the safety of our patients and staff, effective March 30, 2020, new patients and patients with disabilities will be permitted one visitor over the age of 15. No other visitors will be permitted into the clinic.  Family members and caretakers may participate in the appointments remotely by phone or video conference if desired. Compass is working with other health care providers in the area to help contain the spread of the novel Coronavirus. We are taking active steps to minimize your exposure to the virus. These steps include screening everyone who enters the clinic for signs of illness, banning most visitors in the clinic, minimizing our own staffing and allowing some employees to work from home, and frequent sanitation of the clinic. We are using personal protective equipment such as masks, gowns, gloves, and face-shields according to national guidelines. We are working to identify those patients whose visits or treatments can be safely delayed, and we will notify you of this if you have an upcoming visit.  We ask that you stay home if you have fever and/or cough.

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Lip & Oral Staging

If oral cancer is diagnosed, your doctor needs to learn the extent (stage) of the disease to help you choose the best treatment. Many of the tests listed in the diagnosis section are performed to determine if the cancer has spread and to where.

Doctors describe the stage of the cancer based on the size of the tumor, whether it has invaded nearby tissues, and whether it has spread to the lymph nodes or other tissues.

For oral cancers, stages 1 and 2 are combined and classified as “early cancer”. Stages 3 and 4 are classified as “advanced cancer.” Below are the details of each class.

  • Early Cancer Lip or Oral Cancers - Stage 1 or 2 oral cancer is usually a small tumor (smaller than a walnut), and no cancer cells are found in the lymph nodes.
  • Advanced Cancer Lip or Oral Cancers - Stage 3 or 4 oral cancer is usually a large tumor (as big as a lime). The cancer may have invaded nearby tissues or spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body.

When oral cancer spreads, cancer cells may be found in the lymph nodes in the neck or in other tissues of the neck. Cancer cells can also spread to the lungs, liver, bones, and other parts of the body. When cancer spreads from its original place to another part of the body, the new tumor has the same kind of abnormal cells as the primary (original) tumor. For example, if oral cancer spreads to the lungs, the cancer cells in the lungs are actually oral cancer cells. The disease is called metastatic oral cancer, not lung cancer. It’s treated as oral cancer, not lung cancer. Doctors sometimes call the new tumor “distant” or metastatic disease.