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Oral Biopsy

Early detection is the key to a good prognosis when dealing with oral cancer.

Often, the only way to properly diagnose oral cancer is through an oral biopsy.

Drs. Sean M. Healy and Diego Hurtado in Santa Fe, NM, are oral surgeons who can perform a biopsy to detect cancer in its earliest stages.

What Is a Biopsy? Removal of a Small Amount of Tissue


During a biopsy, our surgeons will remove a small sample of abnormal tissue from the lips, tongue, cheeks, gums, or soft palate. This tissue is then sent to a pathologist at a trusted lab for analysis. The pathologist can then identify if the tissue is cancerous.

When Should You Get a Biopsy?

These symptoms can indicate the need for an oral biopsy:

Unusual Lesions

Lumps, bumps, rough spots, lesions, and patches of white or red inside the mouth could be signs of oral cancer. Sores or lesions that persist and do not heal within two weeks on the face, neck, or inside the mouth can also be a sign. 

Chronic Sore Throat

Another common symptom is a chronic sore throat, or feeling like something is stuck in the back of your throat. People who have oral cancer may also find it difficult to chew, swallow, speak, or move their tongue and jaw.

Unexplained Swelling

Swelling of the lips, gums, cheeks, and jaw can be a sign of oral cancer. You may also experience pain with this swelling. Patients who wear dentures may find it hard to put them in or uncomfortable while wearing them due to this swelling. 

Unexplained Numbness

You should contact our office for an oral cancer screening if you are feeling any unexplained numbness or tenderness near your mouth, neck, or any area around your face. 

Shifting Teeth

Sometimes, oral cancer can cause your teeth to shift out of place. Patients who wear dentures may also notice the top and bottom dental arches do not fit together as usual. 

Don't let a Lesion go Undiagnosed

Approximately 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer each year. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation

Am I at Risk For Developing Oral Cancer?

Early diagnosis of cancer is one of the best ways to improve your prognosis. Understanding what puts you at risk for developing oral cancer can keep you alert and on the lookout for lesions or any other symptoms. Risk factors include:


The majority of oral cancer cases appear in patients over the age of 40.

Tobacco Use

Both cigarettes and smokeless tobacco can lead to oral cancer.

Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol is especially dangerous when used in conjunction with tobacco.

Persistent Viral Infections

Viruses such as human papillomavirus (HPV) can lead to oral cancer.

Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation Exposure

UV exposure is one of the most common causes of lip cancer.

Call Our Santa Fe, NM, Practice Today

Both Dr. Healy and Dr. Hurtado are board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeons. With this high level of training and experience, many dentists in the area feel confident referring to us for oral biopsies and oral surgeries. Our doctors strive to provide the best possible care while ensuring your comfort. They take the time to get to know each patient and thoroughly explain the processes of their upcoming procedure. As a patient, you are their top priority. 

Contact our Santa Fe, NM, practice if you notice any dental or oral abnormalities or lesions. They may not be a sign of cancer, but it's important to receive confirmation from a physician. Our caring staff and compassionate doctors will ensure you are seen promptly. 

(505) 984-0694

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Mark Martinez


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This place is amazing! Friendly staff and awesome experience. I got a tooth extracted was in and out and no. Soreness what so ever the next day. Highly recommend them.

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Max Davis


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These folks totally saved me by working me into their schedule for an emergency extraction. No exaggeration.... I had a dangerous situation. I'm totally indebted to them...

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Routine Dental Exams Are Crucial  For Detecting Oral Cancer

Your dentistry practice should perform cancer screenings during your routine oral exams. During these cleanings, they will inspect your teeth, gums, and the soft tissues of your mouth. They will be able to check for any unusual sores, growths, or lesions that could be a result of cancer. If any oral abnormalities are detected, your dental professional may recommend you to our office for a biopsy. By having routine dental cleanings twice a year, you can better protect yourself from oral cancer. 

The Types  Of Oral Biopsies

Oral Surgery and Dental Implant Center of Santa Fe offers two types of biopsies: incisional biopsies and fine-needle aspiration (FNA). We will recommend a type based on your needs. 
Close up of a sample

Incisional Biopsy

During this procedure, our dental surgeon will remove a small amount of abnormal tissue to be sent to a pathologist for a diagnosis. This type of biopsy can be performed under general anesthesia to ensure comfort during the procedure, depending on the complexity and extent of your procedure.

Syringe adding sample to a slide

Fine-Needle Aspiration

During this biopsy, rather than using a scalpel to remove tissue, a thin needle is used. This thin needle is inserted into the affected tissue to remove cells. The small tissue sample is sent to a pathology lab for diagnosis. This form of biopsy is often used when checking for recurrence of cancer. For our more anxious patients, we offer sedation to help keep you relaxed during this procedure.

The Biopsy Procedure What You Should Expect

Our oral and maxillofacial surgeons want you to be as comfortable as possible during your procedure. They will take the time to explain what will happen at every stage of treatment. In general, here is what you can expect:
"Typically, you can expect your results in about three days, though it could take longer."
"Typically, you can expect your results in about three days, though it could take longer."


Depending on the type of biopsy you need, anesthesia or sedation can be given to keep you comfortable and pain-free during your oral biopsy.


The affected area will be cleaned and covered with sterile towels. An ultrasound could be used during an FNA to precisely locate the affected area.


A small amount of oral tissue will be extracted through either an incisional biopsy or an FNA.


Most results are received back from the pathology lab in about three days. Some cases may take longer. 

Recovery Is Quick Any Symptoms Should Only Last a Few Days

Severe side effects and symptoms are rare and depend on the type of biopsy you had. Swelling, soreness, and pain at the site of the biopsy are normal. You should follow your surgeon's aftercare instructions to ensure the quickest and safest recovery. You can help yourself experience a fast and comfortable recovery by taking a few simple measures:

Maintain Oral Hygiene

Good oral hygiene and dentistry practices should be maintained to keep the affected area clean and prevent infection. However, you should avoid brushing around the site of the extraction.

Over-the-Counter Medications

Your surgeon may recommend taking over-the-counter medication to decrease pain, swelling, and discomfort.

Notify Your Surgeon

You should notify our Santa Fe, NM, practice if you notice any bleeding under the skin or signs of infection. 

"The entire staff all have hearts of gold." Why Greater Santa Fe Chooses Us


Tonya Navarro


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The entire staff all have hearts of gold.  Dr. Healey and his assistant Charlie were amazing with my wisdom teeth extraction.   Not only did Dr. Healey have an excellent and professional yet warm and caring manner to him, he truly knows his stuff. 

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Vincent Montano


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Dr. Hurtado was more than willing to answer all my questions prior to and after surgery, and his staff would also give follow up phone calls to check on my recovery and provide guidance in the recovery process. All were very friendly and helpful...

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The Oral Surgery and Dental Implant Center of Santa Fe

At The Oral Surgery and Dental Implant Center of Santa Fe, Drs. Healy and Hurtado use the latest technologies to perform wisdom teeth removals, dental implant placement, and more. Our surgeons are affiliated with several professional organizations, including:

  • The American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
  • The Southwest Society of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons
  • The American Dental Association

To schedule a consultation, contact us online or by calling (505) 984-0694.

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"I was nervous... but Dr. Healy and his nurses put me at ease, and he even gave me a call the evening after surgery to make sure I was ok." From a Google Review

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