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Oral Cancer

Is a White Area on the Uvula a Sign of Cancer?

11/28/2007

Question:

Can a spot develop overnight?  I have regular dental checkups and on October 31st I had a complete physical.  I am being treated with 40mg of Celexa for depression I have ignored for twenty years.  Because I have a history of smokeless tobacco and worry excessively about my health I lose it when something happens inside of my mouth. This last Saturday night my wife and I entertained friends of ours.  I had too much to drink.  I have an alcohol problem stemming from my depression. When I woke Sunday morning I felt as though I had slept with my mouth wide open.  My mouth was dry, my throat was raw and it felt as though I had something caught in the back of my throat.  I thought it may have been a fish bone from dinner the night before so I hacked extremely hard to dislodge it.  When i went to spit I had blood in my saliva.  Every muscle in my body froze.  I had to sit on the toilet and my knees started shaking.  I tried hacking even harder and harder to dislodge what I felt was caught in the back of my throat.  The bleeding had stopped but I still had this feeling of something just at the back of my tongue.  Between hacking and my tongue I tried to dislodge what was in my throat. After I brushed by teeth and gargled with Listerine I took the flashlight from my medicine cabinet to see my uvula looked like a punching bag.  I gargled with Listerine again and started my circle of worry and dread.  The next morning those areas that were red turned pale and one area to the side turned white.  I do not have a sore throat.  I have no problem with eating or drinking.  I just have this white area on my uvula that has me worrying to the point of tears.  The uvula is slowly shrinking.  My mom feels its the skin repairing itself. If this white area were a cancer would it appear so quickly?

Answer:

This situation looks like an acute problem, so my recommendation is going to be to let it heal and follow it along in the next few days or a week. But if it persists or progresses in the next week or two, then you should be seen and evaluated by an ENT doctor.

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Response by:

Enver  Ozer, MD Enver Ozer, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Otolaryngology
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University