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Can Oral Cancer Show Up on Dental X-rays?
Posted on 11/9/2020 by Dr. Michael Allard
Oral cancer can be seen on dental x-rays. If you have symptoms of oral cancer, we will perform an exam of the oral cavity and lips to see if we find any red or white patches, swelling, or lumps.
Getting a Physical Exam and X-rays
A physical screening for oral cancer includes examining the back of the throat, roof of the mouth, and inside of the cheeks and lips. We also check the floor of the mouth, including the lymph nodes of the neck. To confirm a diagnosis, a biopsy is completed. During this procedure, a small piece of tissue is taken to check for cancer cells. The process is done using a local anesthesia. This is one sure way to find out if a questionable area is cancerous. This process usually takes place before we take x-rays. X-rays are taken to support our findings and to review a plan of treatment.
X-rays are Part of the Staging Process
When we take full-mouth dental x-rays, we can see if the cancer has spread to the jaw. Your doctor will usually advise that you take a CT scan. This type of X-ray machine connects to a computer so a series of pictures can be made. In some cases, an injection of dye is administered, so any tumors in the throat, neck, lungs, or mouth can be more clearly seen. Sometimes, when we have not scheduled a cancer screening, we may find an abnormality when we take full-mouth dental x-rays, as part of a regular exam. If this happens, we will schedule a biopsy immediately. Therefore, x-rays may be used before or after a biopsy to determine a prognosis.
Have you had a screening for oral cancer lately? If not, schedule the exam to ensure your oral health. Give us a call today if you have any dental concerns that we can answer or address.