Your dentist may exam you for lesions in the mouth, lips, hard palate, gums, tongue and mucous membranes. If lesions are detected, a variety of screening methods may be used to further investigate such as:
- Biopsy – a small excision of the suspicious tissue is made and sent for microscopic examination.
- Exfoliative cytology – cells are obtained by means of scraping or smearing and examined.
- Imaging tests – X-rays, ultra sounds, or MRIs X-rays, ultrasounds and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are other, and possibly less invasive, methods of detecting oral cancer that involve using radio wave energy to view possible subsurface masses and lesions.
- Toluidine blue (vital staining) – This procedure involves wiping the suspicious mucosal area and applying Toluidine blue solution, which is a type of stain that colors abnormal cellular surfaces.
It is important to keep in mind that if your dentist has sent you to get oral cancer screening it is usually a precautionary measure and does not mean that you have cancer.