In 2017, it was estimated that there would be approximately 49,670 new cases of oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers, and 9,700 deaths from the disease per year.
Survival rates range from 83.7% when the cancer is localized, to 64.2% and 38.5% when regional and distant metastases are diagnosed.
Sadly, about 70% of all new cases are diagnosed at a later stage, which indicates the need for early detection of oral cancer.1
A conventional visual and tactile examination (CVTE) intraorally and extraorally, along with a full review of a patient’s health history including medical, social, and dental information, is needed to identify abnormalities and risks for oral cancers.
► See also: ORAL MEDICINE: Prevalence of denture-related oral lesions
Although this examination is a standard procedure, many adjuncts exist to screen patients as well.
These adjuncts have been used for triage, to replace the CVTE, or as add-ons to help identify potentially malignant disorders and oral squamous cell carcinomas in the oral cavity.
While there are many screening adjuncts available, often marketed as devices that can help “save a life,” the efficacy of these products has not been adequately established.
In 2017, the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs convened an expert panel of general dentists, oral medicine specialists, otolaryngologists, oncologists, oral and maxillofacial pathologists and surgeons, epidemiologists, and a dental hygienist (me) to conduct a systematic review of the scientific literature, and to examine the evidence related to the diagnostic accuracy of these adjuncts as triage tools.
Joann R. Gurenlian, RDH, PhD