An oral cancer screening is an in-depth evaluation of the gums, lips, tongue, palate and other tissues of the mouth as well as the neck and face, looking for abnormalities that could indicate the presence of oral cancer or precancerous conditions.
Oral cancer can cause different signs and can affect different areas of the mouth, face, and neck. Some of the most common signs of oral cancer include:
Screenings begin with a visual examination of the soft tissues inside the mouth as well as the lips, face, jaws and neck. The neck, face and soft tissues of the mouth may be gently palpated to feel for lumps or bumps that could indicate cancer. When an abnormal area of tissue is identified, a biopsy may be performed to obtain a small sample of cells for evaluation under a microscope. Depending on where the abnormal tissue is located, it may be excised (cut out) or removed using a special brush to scrape some cells from the tissue’s surface.
Basic oral cancer screening should be performed every six months with each dental cleaning, and an in-depth screening should be performed at least once each year or more often for those with risk factors like a family history of oral cancer and those who use tobacco products. The screening process is completely painless and takes just a few minutes to perform.
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