A Guide to Oral Cancer Screening Protocols

It is a sad fact that oral cancer can affect any person at any time, which is why you should have regular oral cancer screening tests, which will ensure a quick discovery in the event cancerous cells are present.

Oral cancer can be contracted in many ways, including cancers of:

  • The Lips
  • The Tongue
  • The Cheeks
  • The Floor of the Mouth
  • Hard and Soft Palate
  • Sinuses
  • The Throat

All of the above can be life threatening, which is why regular screening is recommended, and with that in mind, here is a detailed explanation of the oral screening process.


If you wear dentures, they must be removed prior to the screening and your teeth should be clean. Your dentist would first review your medical history to determine the risk factor of contracting oral cancer prior to the actual examination and if you have recently moved, the best dentist in Brisbane can be found with an online search. The specialist would also want to know many things about you and will therefore be asking you many questions, which might well continue as the examination progresses.

Extra-oral Examination

This involves the dentist taking a close look at your head and neck movements, checking for any skin abnormality, particularly swelling. The dentist would likely ask you many questions, including whether you suffer from any form of facial paralysis or feel any pain in any part of your head or neck. The face would be inspected for asymmetry and skin colouring and the dentist would palpate all the regions of the face and neck, feeling for anything unusually firm.

The eyes are also examined and the medical practitioner would ask you to roll your eyes in all directions, enabling them to ascertain if there is anything unusual. Eye swelling can be a symptom of oral cancer, therefore, the eyes would be looked at very carefully.

Intraoral Examination

If your dentist is carrying out the test, it’s likely they will have you in a lying position for the intraoral part of the screening process. This also allows the best of illumination, which is essential when looking for signs of oral cancer and your dentist would make good use of their overhead task lighting. The highest risk areas are the tongue and the roof of the mouth and the dentist would thoroughly examine these areas. When inspecting the inside of your mouth, the dentist is looking for any discolouration, which is often a sign that cancerous cells are present. In some cases, the dentist will dry out the oral cavity with air, as this helps to notice any discolouration and while this might feel a little uncomfortable, saliva soon returns.

The tongue is also inspected very closely and the dentist might take a scraping, which can be tested for signs of malignant tissue.


Most dentists will carry out an oral cancer screening at the same time as having a regular check-up and your health insurance might cover you for such an examination. It will give you peace of mind if you have this screening every year and should cancerous cells be present, the examination would reveal this.

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