Many medical conditions, including all cases of cancer, must be diagnosed by removing a sample of tissue from the patient and sending it to a pathologist for examination. This procedure is called a biopsy. Biopsy is derived from Greek word "looking at the living cells"
Historically, it has been difficult to determine which abnormal tissues in the mouth are worthy of concern. The fact is, the average person routinely has conditions existing in their mouths that mimic the appearance of pre-cancerous changes, and very early cancers of the soft tissues. There has been a tendency to watch these areas over an extended period to determine if they are dangerous or not. Unfortunately, this philosophy leads to a situation in which a dangerous lesion may continue to prosper and grow into a later stage, hard to cure cancer. Any sore, discoloration, induration, prominent tissue, irritation, hoarseness, which does not resolve within a two week period on its own, with or without treatment, should be considered suspect and worthy of further examination.
"I had a sore on the side of my tongue that would not heal. Even though it appeared small to me and there was little pain, Dr. Hamal persuaded me to have a biopsy done "just in case". To my surprise, the biopsy (and a follow-up biopsy) came back as "abnormal". Dr Hamal was quick to refer me to James Hospital in Columbus where I had part of my tongue removed. Five months later, I am fully recovered and have no sign of disease on my tongue.