As part of your routine dental exam, your dentist will conduct an oral cancer screening exam. More specifically, your dentist will feel for any lumps or irregular tissue changes in your neck, head, face, and oral cavity. When examining your mouth, your dentist will look for any sores or discolored tissue as well as check for any signs and symptoms mentioned.
The earlier your mouth cancer is diagnosed, the better your chances of recovery. This is why we ask you to visit OCF Clinics for routine check-ups on a regular basis. Here the dentist will ask about your symptoms and examine you. You may also ask you about your medical history and will feel your neck and face to check for swellings. If mouth cancer is suspected, they will refer you to a head and neck specialist for further tests. These may include the following.
A mouth and throat examination. Your dentist may use a special instrument called a flexible laryngoscope to look inside your mouth and throat.
Your dentist may perform an oral brush biopsy if he or she sees tissue in your mouth that looks suspicious. This test is painless and involves taking a small sample of the tissue and analyzing it for abnormal cells. Alternatively, if the tissue looks more suspicious, your dentist may recommend a scalpel biopsy. This procedure usually requires local anesthesia and may be performed by your dentist or a specialist. These tests are necessary to detect oral cancer early, before it has had a chance to progress and spread.
It is likely that you will need a biopsy. A biopsy is a procedure involving a small sample of tissue being removed from your mouth. The sample is then looked at under the microscope to to determine the type of cells and if they’re benign (not cancerous) or cancerous. Results of a biopsy can take two weeks.
If you are confirmed to have mouth cancer then further tests may be done to see if your cancer has spread. This is called staging. Staging can help doctors estimate how your cancer is likely to progress, and what’s the best course of treatment for you.
This assessment is called staging of the cancer. The aim of staging is to find out:
The tests may include the following.