New screening process helps better diagnose oral cancers

“By combining conventional techniques with more modern techniques, we were able to better diagnose and determine the best options for patients with oral cancer,” said J.B. Epstein, lead author of the study and Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “This approach to diagnosing oral cancer may lead to easier identification of serious pathology, significantly lessening the need for unnecessary biopsies without additional risk of false negatives.”

Patients with early stage oral cancer are typically examined by their doctor for suspicious areas in the mouth and throat area. Doctors in this study wanted to test the value of two diagnostic aids in evaluating lesions in the oral cavity. Chemiluminescent light, or brand name Vizilite and toluidine blue, a pharmaceutical grade dye, were used in addition to the conventional, visual and manual observations of the patient.

Patients were given routine visual examinations under incandescent light for suspicious lesions. The lesions that were deemed suspicious were then assessed with Vizilite, followed by the toluidine blue dye and then biopsied. Doctors then compared the findings from the conventional exam to the advanced, illumination and stain exam.

This study found that of the 84 patients studied, Vizilite improved either the brightness or sharpness of the identified lesions by 61 percent. Only biopsing lesions which retained the toluidine blue stain reduced the false positive rate by nearly 59 percent while maintaining zero false negatives.

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