Diagnosing Oral Cancer

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for oral cancer may include one or more of the following:

  • biopsy - a procedure in which tissue samples are removed (with a needle or during surgery) from the body for examination under a microscope; to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present.
  • computed tomography (CT or CAT scan) - a noninvasive procedure that takes cross-sectional images of the brain or other internal organs; to detect any abnormalities that may not show up on an ordinary x-ray.
  • ultrasonography - a diagnostic imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the internal organs.
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - a noninvasive procedure that produces two-dimensional view of an internal organ or structure, especially the brain and spinal cord.
  • endoscopic procedures - used to view and examine the nasal cavity, mouth, throat, esophagus, and larynx.

Once a diagnosis is made, the cancer will be staged (to determine the extent of the disease) before a treatment plan is established.

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