If an abnormal area has been found in the oral cavity, a biopsy will determine whether it is cancer. Usually, you are referred to a head and neck surgeon, who removes part or all of the lump or abnormal-looking area. A pathologist examines the tissue under a microscope to check for cancer cells.
Almost all oral cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, since squamous cells line the oral cavity.
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.