How Do We Screen For Oral Cancer and Why Is It Important?

How do your screen your patients for oral cancer?

My oral cancer screening involves a thorough history and physical exam. I will visually inspect and palpate the head, neck and oral region. I manually palpate the floor of the mouth. I’ll protract the tongue and inspect the borders and the base, and I also look in the oropharyngeal area with a mirror and look for lesions in there as well. I then will use the latest adjunctive technology, and early cancer detection allows me to see changes in tissue that are not visible to me with direct vision.

I will review their social, familial and medical histories and document any risk factors that present themselves. If there’s any areas of concern, we document that. We photograph it, and we’ll refer it for biopsy. It’s important that we do an oral cancer screening with every examination, because we want to detect things early. Oral cancer, unfortunately, is a very aggressive cancer, so by the time we can see it in the mouth, it’s pretty far along. We want the best outcome for our patients, so early detection is where we want to be.

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