DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic Staff
Oral cancer screening is an examination performed by a dentist or doctor to look for signs of cancer or precancerous conditions in your mouth.
The goal of oral cancer screening is to identify mouth cancer early, when there is a greater chance for a cure.
Most dentists perform an examination of your mouth during a routine dental visit to screen for oral cancer. Some dentists may use additional tests to aid in identifying areas of abnormal cells in your mouth.
Medical organizations disagree on whether healthy people without risk factors for mouth cancer need oral cancer screening. No single oral exam or oral cancer screening test is proved to reduce the risk of dying of oral cancer. Still, you and your dentist may decide that an oral exam or a special test is right for you based on your risk factors.
Nov. 07, 2014
- Rethman MP, et al. Evidence-based clinical recommendations regarding screening for oral squamous cell carcinomas. The Journal of the American Dental Association. 2010;141:509.
- Smith RA, et al. Cancer screening in the United States, 2014: A review of current American Cancer Society guidelines and current issues in cancer screening. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2014;64:30.
- Screening for oral cancer. Rockville, Md.: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspsoral.htm. Accessed Aug. 13, 2014.
- Oral cancer screening (PDQ). National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/screening/oral/HealthProfessional. Accessed Aug. 13, 2014.
- Salinas TJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 18, 2014.
- Langevin SM, et al. Regular dental visits are associated with earlier stage at diagnosis for oral and pharyngeal cancer. Cancer Causes & Control. 2012;23:1821.