Science + Tech

Oral cancer screening methods and technology

According to the World Health Organization, each year there are roughly 657,000 new cases of oropharyngeal and oral cavity cancers worldwide, leading to about 330,000 deaths every year. A crucial factor in reducing the morbidity and mortality rates of oral and oropharyngeal cancers is early recognition and diagnosis.

The American Dental Association recommends that oral cancer screening and diagnosis be performed via the conventional visual and tactile exam followed by tissue biopsy of suspicious areas. The CVTE is the systematic examination of the face, lips, and oral tissues under standard illumination used to detect clinically evident tissue abnormalities or morphologic changes. Regional palpation is used to detect changes in the mucosa, skin, bones, joints and lymph nodes. Suspicious areas are then biopsied and sent for histopathological evaluation.

The CVTE and tissue biopsy are considered standard of care for oral and oropharyngeal cancer detection, and in a 2017 systematic review, the ADA did not recommend the use of adjuncts for the detection or diagnosis of oral cancers. That being said, technology is rapidly evolving and with time, adjunct detection methods may become more reliable and regularly used. It is worthwhile to be familiar with the adjunct methods of testing. These include brush cytology, tissue reflectance, vital staining, salivary adjuncts and molecular targeted imaging. Brush cytology is a relatively painless procedure performed by scraping the surface of the mucosa with a collecting brush. Collected samples are then sent for cytopathological evaluation.

Read the rest of this article in the April 2021 issue of Contour magazine.

~Jody Pfeuffer, Missouri ’23, District 8 Advocacy Chair and MOSDOH Legislative Liaison

Jody Pfeuffer

Jody Pfeuffer, Missouri ’23, is the district 8 advocacy chair and
MOSDOH legislative liaison.

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