Understanding Oral Cancer Biopsies

Understanding Oral Cancer Biopsies

Oral cancer becomes increasingly common with age, so at each one of your dental appointments, your dentist will conduct an exam to look for signs that could indicate the presence of the condition. If an abnormal area is found, a biopsy may be recommended.

This involves removing a fluid or tissue sample so that a pathologist can inspect the cells using a microscope to look for the presence of cancer. If it is found that you have cancer, biopsies can also be helpful in determining where the cancer began and how far it is spread – this information is crucial for developing an effective treatment plan.


A biopsy is the only way that your dentist can give you a definitive oral cancer diagnosis, and there are several types of biopsies that might be used to get your answers:

  • Incisional biopsy. With this type of biopsy, the abnormal-appearing area will have a small piece of tissue removed from it to be sent in to the lab. If the tumor is deep in your mouth, your oral surgeon may need to perform the biopsy in the operating room.
  • Fine needle aspiration. With this type of biopsy, a thin needle is attached to a syringe in order to take cells out of the lump or tumor. This can be especially useful with oral cancer biopsies, and it could reveal that a lump is the result of an infection rather than cancer. This biopsy could also check for recurrence or could determine if cancer has spread into the lymph nodes or other areas of the body.

If you detect any signs of oral cancer in your mouth, contact our office to set up an appointment. Even if you are simply concerned about a sore that won’t heal or a lump that doesn’t go away, you should have the issue inspected.

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