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Am J Dent. 2008 Aug;21(4):199-209.

Oral cancer: current and future diagnostic techniques.

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UCL Eastman Dental Institute, 256 Gray's Inn Road, University College London, London WC1X 8LD, United Kingdom.


Oral cancer is among the 10 most common cancers worldwide, and is especially seen in disadvantaged elderly males. Early detection and prompt treatment offer the best chance for cure. As patient awareness regarding the danger of oral cancer increases, the demand for "screening" is expected to increase. The signs and symptoms of oral cancer often resemble less serious conditions more commonly found and similarly usually presenting as a lump, red or white patch or ulcer. If any such lesion does not heal within 3 weeks, a malignancy or some other serious disorder must be excluded and a biopsy may be indicated. Dental health care workers have a duty to detect benign and potentially malignant oral lesions such as oral cancer and are generally the best trained health care professionals in this field. Prompt referral to an appropriate specialist allows for the best management but, if this is not feasible, the dental practitioner should take the biopsy which should be sent to an oral/head and neck pathologist for histological evaluation.

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