Your browser is not supported. Please upgrade to a modern browser in order to use all the features of the UKHC web application: Firefox | Chrome | Microsoft Edge
Skip to main content
close menu
close menu

Search UK HealthCare

Oral cancer diagnosis

diagnosis

Diagnosis is our first step in creating an appropriate care plan for you. We have the equipment in our office to perform biopsies of the skin and mouth. Our expert head and neck cancer pathologists interpret tests and examine tissue. Results are often available the day of your visit.

  • Imaging tests

    • Computer tomography (CT) scan. CT scans are most useful for detecting the stage of the cancer being diagnosed. The scan’s results tell your doctor if the cancer has spread to your lungs, liver or other organs.
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. Typically, MRI scans are the best test for outlining a bone tumor and are also helpful for looking at the brain and spinal cord. MRI scans take longer than CT scans — usually around an hour.
    • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan. PET scans are useful for examining cancer throughout your body and can help determine the current stage of the cancer. PET is sometimes used in conjunction with a CT scan to better pinpoint the cancer in question.
  • Biopsy

    We may collect small samples of tissue or cells. An oral biopsy is done with local anesthesia by an oral cancer radiologist. Local anesthesia uses medicine to numb the area of the mouth where a needle will be inserted.
    A biopsy may be performed with imaging guidance. Ask your provider about your specific type of biopsy to learn more. 

    Your provider may also perform an exfoliative cytology. During this simple, painless procedure, the provider scrapes a small number of cells from the mouth or lips. We’ll view the sample under a microscope to look for cancerous cells.

  • Test results

    Patients will be contacted after a biopsy by a Markey team member to review results. Further management will be recommended at that time.

  • Second opinions

    When you are diagnosed with oral cancer, it is common to feel a sense of urgency around starting treatment. However, in most cases, there is time to do the needed research to ensure that your diagnosis is correct. That may include getting a second opinion.

    Our team of experts works together to diagnose, treat and prevent oral cancer, with a focus on individualized patient care. 

    Markey is among the best cancer centers in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report, when it comes to advanced treatment options, survival rates and experienced providers. As the one and only NCI-designated cancer program in Kentucky, Markey can serve many patients each year with rare and common cancers, including oral cancer.

    Our specialized team is happy to work with your doctors and communicate to ensure confidence in your diagnosis.

  • Should I get a second opinion?

    A second opinion can help to ensure that you will be getting the latest and most effective therapy for treating oral cancer. The following are common reasons for seeking a second opinion after your initial diagnosis:

    • You are having difficulty understanding your diagnosis.
    • A dedicated team specialized in your cancer type may not be available in your area.
    • There may be uncertainty around the stage of oral cancer.
    • You may want to learn more about treatment options, including clinical trials and advanced technologies only available at an advanced center like Markey.
    • Your health insurance requires a second opinion before continuing toward treatment.

    Questions to ask when getting a second opinion

    After receiving a cancer diagnosis, you may have a lot on your mind. Here a few questions to keep in mind for your doctor when seeking a second opinion:

    • Is there a chance that my medical problem could have a different diagnosis?
    • Are there additional tests I should take before moving forward with treatment?
    • Do you recommend any treatments at this time?
    • What do you expect to happen if I wait or don't have the treatment?
    • What are the side effects of treatment?
    • How long are treatment recovery periods?
       

Learn More

Overview
Treatment
Diagnosis
Follow-up Care
Resources