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Oral Cancer Screenings

Oral cancer screening is an examination performed to look for signs of cancer or precancerous conditions in your mouth. The goal of oral cancer screening is to detect mouth cancer or precancerous lesions that may lead to mouth cancer at an early stage — when cancer or lesions are easiest to remove and most likely to be cured.

Factors that can increase the risk of oral cancer include:

  • Use of tobacco in any form, such as cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewable tobacco, and snuff, among others.

  • Heavy use of alcohol.

  • Previous oral cancer diagnosis.

  • History of significant sun exposure, which increases the risk of lip cancer.


If you're concerned about your cancer risk, talk to Dr. Irina about ways you can reduce your risk and which screening tests might be appropriate for you.

Oral exams for oral cancer screening have some limitations, such as:

  • Oral cancer screening could lead to additional tests. Many people have sores in their mouths, with the great majority being noncancerous. An oral exam can’t determine which sores are cancerous and which are not.

  • Oral cancer screening can’t detect all mouth cancers. It can be difficult to detect areas of abnormal cells just by looking at your mouth, so it’s possible that a small cancer or precancerous lesion could go undetected.​

  • Oral cancer screening hasn’t been proven to save lives. There’s no evidence that routine oral examinations to look for signs of oral cancer can reduce the number of deaths caused by oral cancer. However, screening for oral cancer may help find cancers early — when a cure is more likely.


If Dr. Irina finds an unusual sore, you may go through further testing to determine its cause. The only way to definitively determine whether you have oral cancer is to remove some abnormal cells and test them for cancer by a procedure called a biopsy.

How you prepare

Oral cancer screening doesn’t require any special preparation. Oral cancer screening is typically performed during a routine dental appointment.

What you can expect

During an oral cancer screening exam, Dr. Irina will look over the inside of your mouth to check for red or white patches or mouth sores. Using gloved hands, she also will feel the tissues in your mouth to check for lumps or other abnormalities.


If Dr. Irina discovers any signs of mouth cancer or precancerous lesions, she may recommend:

  • A follow-up visit in a few weeks to see if the abnormal area is still present and note whether it has grown or changed over time.

  • A biopsy procedure to remove a sample of cells for laboratory testing to determine whether cancer cells are present.

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Valley View Dental

Dr. Irina Hayrapetyan DDS FAGD & her staff are eager to welcome you to their friendly dental practice!

Our goal is to help you enjoy a healthy smile that you're proud to share with the world. Embark on a dental experience with us, where your comfort and well-being are our top priorities.
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