A comparative study of normal inspection, autofluorescence and 5-ALA-induced PPIX fluorescence for oral cancer diagnosis

Int J Cancer. 2002 Jan 10;97(2):245-52. doi: 10.1002/ijc.1596.


Fluorescence diagnosis aims to improve the management of oral cancer via early detection of the malignant lesions and better delimitation of the tumor margins. This paper presents a comparative study of normal inspection, combined fluorescence diagnosis (CFD) and its 2 main components, autofluorescence and 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA)-induced protoporphyrin IX (PPIX) fluorescence. Biopsy-controlled fluorescence imaging and spectral analysis were performed on a total of 85 patients with suspected or histologically proven oral carcinoma both before and after topical administration of 5-ALA (200 mg 5-ALA dissolved in 50 ml of H(2)0). Fluorescence excitation was accomplished using filtered light of a xenon short arc lamp (lambda = 375-440 nm). As for CFD, a "streetlight" contrast (red to green) was readily found between malignant and healthy tissue on the acquired images. In terms of tumor localization and delimitation properties, CFD was clearly favorable over either normal inspection or its 2 components in fluorescence imaging. The performance of CFD was found to be impeded by tumor keratinization but to be independent of either tumor staging, grading or localization. In spectral analysis, cancerous tissue showed significantly higher PPIX fluorescence intensities and lower autofluorescence intensities than normal mucosa. There is a great potential for CFD in early detection of oral neoplasms and exact delimitation of the tumors' superficial margins and an advantage over white light inspection and each of its 2 main components. The method is noninvasive, safe and easily reproducible.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aminolevulinic Acid*
  • Biopsy
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Fluorescence
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Photosensitizing Agents*
  • Protoporphyrins*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence / instrumentation
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence / methods
  • Time Factors


  • Photosensitizing Agents
  • Protoporphyrins
  • Aminolevulinic Acid
  • protoporphyrin IX