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Oral Cancer

Screening and Tests for Oral Cancer

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for oral cancer may include one or more of the following:

  • Biopsy - a procedure in which tissue samples are removed (with a needle or during surgery) from the body for examination under a microscope; to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present.
  • Computed tomography (CT or CAT scan) - a noninvasive procedure that takes cross-sectional images of the brain or other internal organs; to detect any abnormalities that may not show up on an ordinary X-ray.
  • Ultrasonography - a diagnostic imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the internal organs.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - a noninvasive procedure that produces two-dimensional view of an internal organ or structure, especially the brain and spinal cord. If additional imaging is needed, your doctor may order a PET scan, which can determine where your cancer started.
  • Barium swallow - because cancer of the esophagus may occur with oral cancer,¬† your doctor may order this test, often called an upper GI series, to look for cancer of the esophagus. You will drink a chalky solution while X-rays are taken¬†

Once a diagnosis is made, the cancer will be staged (to determine the extent of the disease) before a treatment plan is established.

Locations for Oral Cancer