When we see a patient for a routine check-up, it is possible for us to sometimes detect suspicious lumps or areas of concern. If this happens, you will be referred to a specialist to confirm if there are any precancerous or cancerous abnormalities. If you experience symptoms of red and white patches on the tongue, lips, or gums; or mouth sores, this can be a first sign that something may be wrong.
What to Expect During Your Biopsy
Oral cancer includes cancer in the mouth and oropharynx, which is part of the throat that includes the base of the tongue, tonsils, and the soft palate. If you have recently been referred for an oral biopsy, you will naturally want to know what to expect during your appointment. There are 3 types of oral biopsies, but generally, the process is quite similar. There will be a small amount of tissue removed from the suspicious area to be sent to a pathologist. The pathologist will then examine the tissue for cancer cells. If cancer is found and confirmed, the best treatment will then be determined.
Types of Oral Biopsies
Exfoliative Cytology is typically an in-office procedure, where cells are gently scraped from the area in question. This is a non-invasive procedure that is completely painless, however, this technique doesn't detect all types of oral cancers, so you may need to have a more invasive biopsy. Incisional Biopsy is when a sample of tissue is cut out and removed to be tested. This can be performed in-office or at a hospital, depending on the anesthesia that is used.
Fine-needle Aspiration (FNA) Biopsy is usually carried out on suspicious lumps. This is usually an in-office procedure that is carried out by a thin needle being used to draw out cells or fluid from the lump. There is no need for any anesthesia as the area will be numbed. If you are concerned about any lumps or are experiencing symptoms that are worrying you, it is important to seek medical attention.