Oral cancer screening is a routine part of a dental examination. Regular check-ups, including an examination of the entire mouth, are essential in the early detection of cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions. You may have a very small, but dangerous, oral spot or sore and not be aware of it.
The doctor will carefully examine the inside of your mouth and tongue for any flat, painless, white or red spots, or small sores. It is common for them to be unnoticeable for patients, and although most of these are harmless, some are not. Harmful oral spots or sores often look identical to those that are harmless, but testing can tell them apart. If you have a sore but believe you know the cause (such as injury), the doctor may ask you to return for a re-examination.
To ensure that a spot or sore is not dangerous the doctor may choose to perform a simple test, such as a brush test. A brush test collects cells from a suspicious lesion in the mouth. The cells are sent to a laboratory for analysis. If precancerous cells are found, the lesion can be surgically removed if necessary during a separate procedure. It's important to know that all atypical and positive results from a brush test, or other screening tests, must be confirmed by biopsy.