Oral cancer makes up for 5% of all malignant tumors. Unfortunately, almost 60% of these lesions go undetected until they are well advanced. Oral CDx brush biopsy makes early diagnosis possible, saving thousands of oral cancer patients from avoidable death. This is a relatively new oral cancer screening tool that is widely available today. As a leading dental practice, at Northridge Dentist, you can walk into our clinic for a painless screening session followed by advanced computer analysis that allows us to provide an accurate diagnosis.

Oral CDx brush biopsy consists of a stiff brush used to obtain sample cells from lesions (areas with unusual tissue). The acquired samples are then taken to a lab where a skilled pathologist analyzes them. The whole process is fairly painless because we don't need to make any incisions or use needles. Using a brush biopsy, we can tell whether the acquired cells are unusual, cancerous, or normal.

Oral CDx — Oral Brush Biopsy; What Is It?

Oral CDx is an oral brush biopsy used to collect samples from lesions that present themselves as rough or white patches. While these white, harmless-looking spots may appear randomly and not tag along with any deadly symptoms, they could be cancerous or precancerous. Oral CDx is an advanced system that uses oral brush biopsy combined with advanced computer analysis to detect any abnormal or cancerous cells in lesions.

This test is designed to help in evaluating oral spots that often appear non-threatening. While tests like Scalpel Biopsy have been around for much longer, they are only effective in dealing with highly suspicious lesions that present themselves as lumps, bumps, or deep and reddish wounds. The Oral CDx oral brush biopsy is comparatively new and has brought a full-tilt in routine oral cancer evaluation practices.

Using this technique, spots that would in the past not be biopsied can now be tested the instance they are discovered. Thus far, this has saved hundreds of lives and saved thousands of patients from having to undergo potentially disfiguring surgeries. What makes this test revolutionary is that it allows us to confirm that harmless-looking spots are just that—harmless. In case there is something more, patients can begin treatment before an issue goes from bad to worse.

Understanding How Oral CDx Works

When suspicious lesions appear in a patient's mouth, we use a special brush to obtain small tissue samples. We then place the specimens on a slide and forward them to CDx Laboratories. In the lab, computers designed to use advanced robotics scan and image the cells on the sample and examine it thoroughly. This computer can scan thousands of cells simultaneously and examine them individually before comparing them to libraries of both abnormal and normal cells. Ultimately, this enables us to determine whether there are problematic cells that need specialized attention. A summary report is then generated and used to discuss issues of concern with a patient.

In case an Oral CDx test turns positive or unusual, we can schedule a standard scalpel biopsy. If it turns out negative, there is a good chance that it will eventually heal. However, lesions that persist require follow-up evaluation and possibly a re-brush biopsy each year.

We have an in-depth understanding of different concerns that show potential signs of cancerous or precancerous cells. This knowledge allows us to identify suspicious or dangerous cells and know when a scalpel biopsy is necessary. Unlike the oral brush biopsy, which is painless, we need to administer local anesthesia when performing a scalpel biopsy.

The Results of a Brush Biopsy are Atypical or Positive; What Next?

If a test is positive for malignancy, it is crucial to schedule a scalpel biopsy as soon as possible. This is the sole way we can tell for sure whether a lesion is cancerous. All the same, the series of tests performed make it possible to detect cancer during its early stages. It often begins with a simple oral CDx brush biopsy, which drastically increases our chances of detecting oral cancer before it goes from bad to worse.

You must not underestimate the need to schedule regular dental check-ups. We recommend planning an appointment at least once every six months. This allows us to identify minor lesions before they pose any major health dangers. Whether these lesions turn out positive or negative, we highly recommend doing follow-ups without fail. We advise patients to schedule a yearly brush biopsy of white lesions, especially the persistent ones. This helps us to lower the risk of malignant transformation (changes from while lesions into cancer).

Oral Cancer Statistics

When most people are asked to name types of cancers, it is highly unlikely that they will mention oral cancer on top of their list. This is an often-overlooked disease that claims thousands of lives across the globe each year. Statistics show that oral cancer is just as deadly as skin cancer and claims nearly double the number of cervical cancer lives. The worst bit is that this disease is today affecting groups of people who were traditionally considered "low risk." This includes young adults, women, and non-smokers.

In the past, even experts believed that the main risk factors were tobacco use and excessive consumption of alcohol. A few years back, the prognosis for this deadly disease was poor, to say the least. Patients had a 50% chance of enjoying a 5-year maximum survival rate when diagnosed and put under a surefire treatment plan.

Even cancerous lesions don't start as full-blown wounds. It takes months, sometimes years, before they metastasize to distant sites. The longer an issue goes without treatment, the harder it becomes to benefit from effective treatment even after diagnosis. When issues are caught late, even survivors are left to battle with the aftermath of radial surgical solutions, which often cause chronic pain, eating and speaking challenges, as well as permanent facial disfigurement.

This data begs the question, is oral cancer preventable?

Does modern technology allow the detection of lesions before they become cancerous?

The answer is YES!

Like most cancers, oral cancer is carcinomas. This means it begins with a harmless and often painless dysplasia, which is not cancer. Dysplasia is the growth of precancerous cells within the epithelium (thin layer of tissue lining all body organs and cavities). Again, dysplasia is harmless. However, if it goes undetected, this gives it time to penetrate the tissue's membrane layer and mutate into cancer. The longer a concern remains undetected, the more it spreads to other sites within the body and manifests into a life-threatening disease.

So, why is dysplasia considered harmless?

Well, dysplastic cells are harmless because they haven't accumulated the genetic mutations required to be harmful. Moreover, the epithelium has no blood supply and is also not connected to the lymphatic system. This means that cells within the epithelium lack the mechanism needed to spread to other parts of the body. Through an oral brush biopsy, dentists can identify and remove dysplasia to arrest their progression to cancer.

Other important facts you should know include:

  • Generally, men are two times more likely to suffer from oral cancer than women.
  • Most patients diagnosed with this cancer are above 50 years.
  • There has been a rise in the numbers of young adults in their 30s and 20s suffering from oral cancer.
  • If you test positive for oral cancer and survive, you will be at risk of developing another related cancer. This risk lasts for about 5-10 years.

The above data is stressing, especially because it proves that no one is immune to this deadly disease. Fortunately, biopsies offer a sure means to diagnose oral lesions and tumors effectively. The best part is that patients have a fair chance of making a full recovery if an issue of concern is detected early. One of the simplest ways to dramatically reduce your risk of suffering from oral cancer is to regularly see your dentist. We have the skills and competence to identify potentially cancerous growths that need closer attention. In most cases, we can eliminate cancer if a patient begins treatment immediately.

What Are the Perks of Oral Brush Biopsy?

Think of an oral brush biopsy as a Pap smear for oral cancer. When we identify spots or lesions in the mouth during routine check-ups, we can schedule an oral brush biopsy. This allows us to collect cells from suspicious lesions for testing. The process is generally painless because we don't need to make injections or incisions in your mouth.

Once we have the needed samples, they are taken through rigorous clinical trials to identify precancerous or cancerous cells. Thanks to high-speed computer systems, these samples are effectively analyzed to provide the most accurate and definitive diagnosis. In some instances, however, patients may be required to schedule for scalpel biopsy.

Some of the benefits of oral brush biopsy include

  • Relatively painless procedure
  • No anesthesia or medication is required
  • Can be quickly and easily performed by your dentist
  • Quite accurate and effective in early oral cancer detection

If you notice bumps, lumps, or lesions in your mouth, you need to schedule an evaluation with us immediately. The sooner you can get an oral brush biopsy, the better. This is irrespective of whether the tests are positive or negative. In any case, surviving oral cancer highly depends on how soon the issue is identified.

Who Needs an Oral Brush Biopsy?

Gone are the days when a specific group of people was at greater risk of suffering from oral cancer. Today, routine screening is necessary to detect precancerous or cancerous cells before they progress into oral cancer. If you notice white spots or lesions on your mouth, it is vital to talk to your dentist about this and schedule an oral brush biopsy.

The whole idea of scheduling for tests is to screen and detect problematic cells that can easily cause cancer. When an issue of concern is caught early, you have an above-average chance of benefiting from easy, quick, and inexpensive treatment.

While oral cancer can also affect women, non-smokers, and young adults, we recommend routine screening for:

  • Patients with a history of oral cancer diagnosis
  • Heavy alcohol drinkers
  • Smokers of pipes, cigarettes, and cigars (any form of tobacco)

You don't need to identify suspicious lesions for you to schedule for oral cancer screening. Today, more and more people are confirmed to have throat and mouth cancers for reasons that remain unclear. While some say that these cancers are closely related to HPV (human papillomavirus), others claim that the current lifestyle options are to blame for the rising cancer cases. If you feel anxious about your cancer risk, visit us immediately for consultation and screening tests.

Oral Brush Biopsy Limitations

Until recently, oral cancers were only detectable in their late stages. This gave patients a 50/50 chance of surviving, even after clinical examinations. It is currently possible to screen all kinds of lesions, even those that are not suspicious enough to warrant a scalpel biopsy. Using traditional methods, the only kind of lesions that could be screened are large-sized, painful, and sore. Unfortunately, oral cancers often exhibit such features once they are advanced.

Through oral brush biopsy, dentists can screen early oral pre-cancers and cancers. Note that these lesions are often not suspicious at all. They are small, painless, and often appear harmless. Many patients will not even notice they have red or white lesions until they check into a dental clinic for routine examinations.

While the perks of an oral brush biopsy are evident, the procedure also has some limitations. They include:

Additional Tests Are Often Required

More than half the fraction of patients who schedule for the screening of mouth sores tests negative. This means their lesions are noncancerous, or at least those that are tested don't have problematic cells. In case these sores persist, additional tests will be necessary.

Not All Cancers Can Be Detected

Physically examining a patient's mouth alone cannot make it apparent to a dentist that you have abnormal cell growth. This means that small lesions with cancerous or precancerous cells may go undetected.

No Cure Guarantees

The early detection of oral cancer indeed saves lives. When an issue is caught early and treated, patients are saved from the horrors of battling with full-blown cancers. While this may be the case, early detection is not always a guarantee that treatment will work as effectively as expected.

How to Speed Up Healing Following an Oral Biopsy

An oral brush biopsy is minimally invasive, and no incisions or stitches are necessary. If you go through the procedure without needing an anesthetic, the affected site may not feel numb, although it may feel uncomfortable for a few days.

Here are a few things you can do to ensure quick healing of the site

  • Eat soft, and avoid hot or spicy meals that may be abrasive to the treated site
  • If the site has any form of discomfort, be gentle when brushing
  • Take a few days off using straws
  • Use ibuprofen or any pain pills we offer you if the site gets painful

Because an oral brush biopsy is not as highly invasive as other forms of biopsies, most patients heal without a glitch. However, you should return to the clinic if the site swells, bleeds excessively, or you experience fevers or chills.

Oral CDx Brush Biopsy Safety

Before scheduling for any procedure, it is usual to wonder whether it is safe. While plenty has been said regarding the efficiency and accuracy of oral brush biopsy, not much is mentioned about its safety. Well, this special brush is individually packaged and is certified to be sterile and safe for use.

In terms of the procedure itself, it is literally "failsafe." The worst that could happen is the dentist will not provide an adequate specimen. In this case, a follow-up test is quite necessary because the OralCDx computer will reject the specimens for analysis and classify them under class 0. This means that the specimens are inadequate and fail to represent the complete trans-epithelial biopsy.

We will begin by physically inspecting the interiors of your mouth for red or white spots or lesions during the test. Our skilled dentists will feel the tissue using gloved hands and inspect it for abnormalities such as lumps. We also examine the neck and throat for lumps. Because this is a generally safe procedure, the sessions don't need any form of preparation.

FAQs about the OralCDx Brush Test

1. What are oral spots?

Oral spots are white or red areas in the mouth that signify tissue changes. They often appear inside the cheeks, although they may also appear on the tongue or other areas in the mouth. Oral spots appear because of different issues, including prolonged irritation. Clinically, white spots whose cause is unknown are known as leukoplakia, while red spots are referred to as erythroplakia.

2. Do I have an oral spot?

It takes paying close attention to areas of your mouth with lesions to know whether you have an oral spot. Often, patients can notice these red or white areas when flossing and brushing. In case you see something that looks like an oral spot, and it fails to heal naturally within 10-14 days, there is cause for alarm. It is imperative to see your physician or dentist immediately.

It takes running special tests to find out whether an oral spot contains abnormal cells. Early detection and treatment go a long way in preventing suspicious lesions' risk of progressing into oral cancer. If the tests turn out negative, but the lesions persist, you should visit your dentist again for a follow-up brush test.

3. The oral brush biopsy tests showed I have an oral spot. Do I have oral cancer?

 No, not all oral spots contain abnormal cells. Even spots with unhealthy cells are not life-threatening, especially when caught early. If your oral brush biopsy tests are positive, doctors can remove the abnormal cells before they have a chance to develop into oral cancer.

4. How accurate is an oral brush biopsy test?

It is normal for patients to doubt oral brush biopsy tests' accuracy, especially because they are minimally invasive. However, when these tests are right, the results are equally as accurate as those of a scalpel biopsy. The outcome of a test can help rule out cancer or pre-cancer. Currently, brush tests have successfully saved thousands of lives by aiding in detecting precancerous cells way before they progress into cancer. Moreover, there are standard parameters used during the evaluation and interpretation of lab results. This makes it easy to understand the outcome of the tests and device the best cause of action. Based on the specified parameters, specimens are classified as:

  • Class 0: Insufficient specimen
  • Class 1: No/atypical or unusual cells
  • Class 2: Atypical cytology with no indication of malignancy
  • Class 3: Cytology indicative of but not decisive for malignancy
  • Class 4: Cytology highly indicative of malignancy
  • Class 5: Cytology definite for malignancy


5. How painful is the brush test procedure?

Compared to other oral procedures that require the use of local anesthetic, an oral brush biopsy is generally considered painless. According to a decent number of patients, the procedure feels like a hard-bristled brush rubbing on the oral spot. However, it is possible to feel some level of discomfort, especially if the oral spot is on a sensitive area of the mouth. In case the discomfort is too much, there is always the option of using a topical anesthetic.

Find a Northridge Dentist Near Me

In this article, we have covered just about all the details you need to know about Oral CDx oral brush biopsy. It is a simple and minimally invasive test that is often readily accepted by patients with suspicious oral lesions. We treat each of our patients individually and strive to provide personalized care.  If you are looking for Oral Cancer screening contact the Northridge Dentist or call us about any oral health issues, we will be more than happy to attend to your needs. For more information or to make an appointment, call us at 818-875-0216.

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