Different Oral Cancer Screening Procedures


About 48,000 cases of oral cancer are reported in the United States of America every year.. Precious lives can be saved with early detection of oral cancer through different oral cancer screening procedures. This post briefly discusses different oral cancer screening procedures.

Procedures used for screening of oral cancers

Four oral cancer screenings are used for early detection of cancer. If lesions are seen in the mouth of the patient, below procedures can be used for detecting abnormal tissues that might become cancerous:

Brush biopsy

In these screening procedures, the removal of cells is done using a brush. The brush is precisely designed for collecting cells from all the layers of a lesion. All the collected cells are viewed under a microscope in order to find out if they are cancerous.

Exfoliative cytology

This screening procedure is used for the collection of cells from the oral cavity or the lip. For gently scraping cells from the lips, a piece of small wooden stick, cotton or brush is used in this screening procedure. To find out if they are abnormal, the cells are viewed under a microscope.

Fluorescence staining

In this screening procedure, collected cells are viewed using a special light. Normal tissues look different from abnormal tissues when viewed under the light with fluorescent mouth rinse.

Toluidine blue stain

In these oral cancer screenings, mouth of the patient is coated with a blue dye. Areas of the stain darker than others are more likely to be abnormal or cancerous cells.

Possible risks associated with oral cancer screening

Before having any screening test for detection of oral cancer, it is recommended that the patient must discuss the test with his/her doctor as not all the screening tests for oral cancer are helpful and some of them may involve inherent risks.

False-negative test results

False negative test results may appear to be normal even though oral cavity is present. So, false negative results may result in delayed medical care as it shows there is no cancer or abnormal cell when really it is.

Misdiagnosis can occur

For the purpose of diagnosing oral cancer, a biopsy procedure is recommended by cancer specialists. For checking the signs of cancer, tissues are removed from the oral cavity and viewed under advanced microscope.

False-positive test results

Results appear to be abnormal even though no cancer is present in the patient. It can cause anxiety and is usually followed by more screening/testing procedures such as biopsy.

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