DISEASES OF THE SOFT TISSUE
Section I. ORAL TUMORS (NEOPLASMS) AND LABORATORY STUDIES
a. Definition. A neoplasm (tumor) is an abnormal growth of new tissue that
grows independently of surrounding structures and serves no physiological purpose. A
tumor can usually be removed surgically. Since benign tumors grow by expansion,
when removed, they are less likely to recur than malignant tumors. Malignant tumors
(cancers) grow by extension into the surrounding contiguous tissues. They tend to
spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body by way of the blood vessels, lymphatic
system, or membranous surfaces.
b. Examining the Oral Cavity. The oral cavity is a common site for many types
of tumors. Early treatment of tumors is essential. Examination and diagnosis by the
dental officer must include a consideration of suspicious lesions, such as leukoplakia,
and conditions that might develop into tumors. Any abnormal condition seen by a
dental specialist, such as unexplained swelling, abnormal discoloration, or ulceration,
should be reported to the dental officer immediately.
Fibromas (figure 2-1) are the most common benign tumor growths in the oral
cavity. They are a connective tissue response to irritations resulting in a well-defined,
slow-growing firm mass. The overlying tissue (oral mucosa) is usually normal in
appearance and color. A common site for irritation fibromas is the buccal mucosa, but
they may be found throughout the oral cavity. After surgical removal, there is no
NOTE: The biting line of the buccal mucosa is a common area for fibroma
development. Fibromas are benign, mucosal-covered, traumatically-stimulated
growths of fibrous connective tissue which are removed surgically by excision.