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Oral Cancer Screening

Oral cavity and nasopharyngeal cancers occur when cancer cells form in the mouth and throat.

Oral cavity cancer usually forms in the thin, flat cells lining the inside of the oral cavity (squamous cells) in any of these tissues:
  • Lips
  • Gums
  • Tongue
  • Floor of the mouth under the tongue.
  • Front of the roof of the mouth
  • Lining of the inside of the cheeks
  • Small area behind the wisdom teeth
Pharyngeal cancer forms in the tissues of the throat, including the nasopharynx, oropharynx, and hypopharynx. 

Oral Cavity and Nasopharyngeal Cancers Screening
There are no standard, routine screening tests for oral cavity or nasopharyngeal cancers. A dentist or doctor may examine the oral cavity during a routine check-up. Such an exam looks for lesions and white or red patches of cells. Lesions on the mucous membranes may become cancerous.

If lesions are found, your healthcare provider may employ procedures involving dyes, special lights and/or cell collection and examination to further study the lesions to determine if they are abnormal.

Nasopharyngeal cancer has been linked to Epstein Barr virus (EBV), so your healthcare provider may also perform tests to screen for Epstein-Barr virus antibodies or DNA.

Additional screening tests for oral cavity and nasopharyngeal cancers are being studied in clinical trials. 
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