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Oral Oncol. 2004 Sep;40(8):829-34.

An audit of the efficacy of the oral brush biopsy technique in a specialist Oral Medicine unit.

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Oral Medicine, Division of Maxillofacial Diagnostic, Medical and Surgical Sciences, Eastman Dental Institute for Oral Health Care Sciences, UCL, University of London, 256 Gray's Inn Road, London WC1X 8LD, UK.


The diagnosis of oral epithelial dysplasia has traditionally been based upon histopathological evaluation of a full thickness biopsy specimen from lesional tissue. It has recently been proposed that cytological examination of "brush biopsy" samples is a non-invasive method of determining the presence of cellular atypia, and hence the likelihood of oral epithelial dysplasia. The present audit determined, retrospectively the sensitivity, specificity and positive and negative predictive values of the oral brush biopsy technique in the diagnosis of potentially malignant disease in a group of 112 patients attending a specialist Oral Medicine unit. The sensitivity of detection of oral epithelial dysplasia or squamous cell carcinoma of the oral brush biopsy system was 71.4% while the specificity was 32%. The positive predictive value of an abnormal brush biopsy result (positive or atypical) was 44.1%, while the negative predictive value was 60%. It is concluded that not all potentially malignant disease is detected with this non-invasive investigative procedure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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