Screening for OPC 

How does oral cancer screening work? What questions should you ask your doctor? Learn more about important screening information here.

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Screening Protocol

80% of oral cancer cases go unnoticed until a patient can feel a palpable node in their neck. Performing frequent self screening exams increases the chance of identifying new cancerous growths at an early stage. 

Dentists and doctors recommend that patients look at their mouth in a mirror every month to check for any abnormalities, like white patches, sores, or lumps. This is particularly important for patients who frequently use tobacco or drink alcohol, since those behaviors increase risk for oral cancer.

The places where most oral cancers develop include the sides and under surface of the tongue, floor of the mouth, and the soft palate and back of the throat.

Click here for an infographic about self-screening, provided by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS).

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Warning Signs

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Symptoms of head and neck cancers may include a lump or sore that does not heal, a lasting sore throat, trouble swallowing, and a change or hoarseness in voice. You should consult your doctor if you notice any of the following: 

  1. Lump or thickening in throat

  2. White/red patches on tongue, tonsils, or gums

  3. Numbness of any oral feature

  4. Any type of lesion or sore that doesn't heal within 2 weeks

Click here for a more detailed infographic about oral cancer symptoms.

Talking to Your Doctor

Since symptoms of oral cancer may mimic those of less serious conditions, awareness is crucial.  


If you suspect you could have oral cancer, a doctor  may help determine whether an evaluation is needed, and which procedures and diagnostic tests should be performed.

As a patient, it is important to have as much knowledge as possible so you can make informed decisions about your health and treatments. 

Click here for some questions you may find useful to guide you in your discussion.

Doctor and Patient