Oral Biopsies: A Miami Dentist Answers Your Questions
Most have limited knowledge of how biopsies work, which can make the process intimidating when a biopsy is recommend to you by a dentist or general MD. It’s important to note that if the dentist does recommend a biopsy, you shouldn’t immediately assume that you have cancer. What a referral does mean is that the dentist sees an abnormal section of tissue that warrants further investigation. The great news is that when precancerous and cancerous cells are discovered early on, the success rate for treatment is quite high.
If you have noticed a suspicious lesion, discolored patch, or abnormal growth, it is highly recommended that you have an oral cancer screening performed. These can be performed by your dentist or family doctor. For an oral cancer screening in Miami, contact CG Smile to schedule an appointment.
Why are Oral Biopsies Performed?
When a dentist or general medical doctor examines oral tissue and they suspect it may contain precancerous or cancerous cells, they will often have a biopsy performed. Biopsies are done so a tissue sample can be examined under a microscope by a pathologist.
A dentist may recommend a biopsy under certain circumstances, such as:
- Abnormal oral lesion
- Tissue inflammation with unknown origin
- Unidentifiable bone lesions
- Oral lesions that appear malignant
Before an oral biopsy is performed, the surgeon will collect a full and up-to-date medical history. This will help them determine the form of biopsy to be used. If you are asked to complete a pre-surgical questionnaire, be sure to answer the questions to the best of your ability.
Common Types of Oral Biopsies
Oral biopsies are performed as outpatient procedures. The most common types of oral and maxillofacial biopsies performed include:
- Incisional biopsy.An incisional biopsy is the type familiar to most patients. In this type of biopsy, a doctor incises (cuts) a piece of tissue to collect a sample. This sample is then sent to a pathologist for analysis. When an incisional biopsy is performed, the patient will receive local anesthesia. (In some instances general anesthesia may be used.)
- Excisional biopsies. In addition to incisional biopsies, there are excisional biopsies. With this form of biopsy, the surgeon will attempt remove all of the affected tissue and even some of the neighboring healthy tissue.
- Brush biopsy.Brush biopsies are used to confirm the presence of abnormal cells. These are usually performed as a precursor to an incisional or excisional biopsy performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
- Punch biopsy.A punch biopsy can be considered both an incisional and excisional form of biopsy. With a punch biopsy, a sharp, circular skin punch biopsy tool is used to extract a sample. Forceps are then used to lift the sample, which is then removed using a scalpel. A local anesthetic such as lidocaine is administered prior to this type of procedure.
- Exfoliative cytology.This form of biopsy is quick and relatively painless. Cells that are suspected of being premalignant or malignant squamous cell carcinomas are scraped away to be tested by a pathologist. Exfoliative cytology is often the preferred form of biopsy in patients with systemic diseases that make them poor candidates for traditional forms of biopsy (such as incisional biopsies).
- Fine-needle aspiration. A fine-needle aspiration biopsy, or "FNA," is used to extract fluids from lumps suspected of being cancerous (especially in the neck region). When an FNA biopsy is performed, the doctor or dentist will use a fine-needled syringe to draw out a quantity of fluid. A local anesthetic is not always required to extract a specimen during fine-needle aspiration. While an FNA is one of the easiest types of biopsies to undergo, there are some drawbacks; if an FNA biopsy fails to capture cancerous cells during the extraction process, the test may show a false negative.
Have a Question About Oral Biopsies?
If the dentist has recommended that you undergo a biopsy, you will likely have some questions about this procedure and what it might mean for your health. If these were not addressed during your appointment, we are here to answer any follow-up questions you may have. Contact CG Smile today