What Tests Help My Doctor Find Oral Cancer?
Your dentist checks for signs of oral cancer during your regular exams. Your doctor may do tests if you have these symptoms that may be caused by oral cancer:3,5
Unusual sores in your mouth1,3
Red or white patches2,3,5
Unusual swelling in your gums or jaw2,5
Areas that bleed 2,3,5
Your doctor will probably ask some questions about your health habits and medical history.1,4 You may discuss risk factors for oral cancer, such as:
In addition to asking you questions, your doctor also may do a physical exam.1 This involves looking at your head and neck and checking inside your mouth.3,5 The doctor also may view the back of your mouth and throat with a flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope.1,2
Based on the results of these tests, your doctor will decide whether to do a biopsy to look for cancer.1,5
1 “Detailed Guide: Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancer.” American Cancer Society, 2007. www.cancer.org/Cancer/OralCavityandOropharyngealCancer/DetailedGuide/index Accessed 2010.
2 “Head and Neck Cancer: Questions and Answers.” National Cancer Institute, 2005. www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Sites-Types/head-and-neck Accessed 2010.
3 “Oral Cancer.” American Dental Association, 2005. www.ada.org/3016.aspx Accessed 2010.
4 “Lip and Oral Cavity Cancer Treatment (PDQ): Patient Version.” National Cancer Institute, June 16, 2010. www.nci.nih.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/lip-and-oral-cavity/patient Accessed 2010.
5 “What You Need To Know About Oral Cancer.” National Cancer Institute, 2006. www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/oral Accessed 2010.