Autofluorescence imaging and spectroscopy of normal and malignant mucosa in patients with head and neck cancer

Lasers Surg Med. 1999;25(4):323-34. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1096-9101(1999)25:4<323::aid-lsm7>;2-p.


Background and objective: An early detection of oral cancer might improve the patient's prognosis. We present preliminary results of autofluorescence photodetection of cancerous oral mucosa.

Materials and methods: 49 patients were investigated altogether. In 30 patients, malignant and healthy oral mucosa were excited with violet light (lambda = 375 to 440 nm). Images were recorded by a sensitive CCD camera. Spectrophotometric analysis in the green spectral range was performed on tumorous and innocuous mucosa in 36 patients.

Results: In 13 patients (43.3%), tumors were subjectively better distinguishable from their surroundings through a reduction of green autofluorescence than by ordinary inspection. Tumor detection abilities varied for different locations and tumor morphologies. Spectral analysis showed contrasts in autofluorescence intensities between tumor and normal tissues in 34 patients (94.4%). Autofluorescence spectra of normal mucosa varied both inter- and intraindividually.

Conclusions: Using violet excitation light, camera-based autofluorescence photodetection in the green spectral range presented a highly promising tool for the diagnosis of oral malignomas in almost half of the cases examined. The possible ways on how the obtained results could serve to find a more advanced method for a precise tumor detection in the oral cavity are being discussed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / diagnosis*
  • False Negative Reactions
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted* / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Mucosa / pathology*
  • Mouth Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Prognosis
  • Reference Values
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence / methods*