Cancer Institute A national cancer institute
designated cancer center

Oral Cancer Diagnosis

A doctor examines a tissue sample to diagnose oral cancer Examining a tissue sample is one of the procedures that may be done to diagnose oral cancer.

Tests that Help Evaluate Oral Cancer

Your doctor will take a sample of cells from your mouth and perhaps your neck in a process called a biopsy in order to know that you have cancer. The biopsy may be done in the doctor's office or at the hospital.

These are three ways to take a biopsy to check for oral cancer:

Once the biopsy is completed, the pathologist examines the tissue samples in a lab. He or she looks at the tissue under a microscope to check for cancer cells. It usually takes several days for the results of your biopsy to come back. A biopsy is the only sure way to tell if you have cancer and what kind of cancer it is.

Additional Tests that Help Diagnose Oral Cancer

Your doctor may request more tests to learn more about your specific type of cancer and its location. These tests provide information that your health care team uses to help decide on the treatment that is likely to be most effective for you. Here are some of the tests you may need to have.

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