Oral malignancies associated with negative transepithelial brush biopsy

J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2003 Jun;61(6):674-7. doi: 10.1053/joms.2003.50136.


Purpose: This study was performed to assess the incidence of negative brush biopsy for oral lesions later demonstrated histologically to be squamous cell carcinoma.

Methods: All diagnoses of oral squamous cell carcinoma from a university oral pathology service for the period June 2000 through March 2002 were reviewed to determine if any had previously undergone brush biopsy reported to be "negative for epithelial abnormality." Those cases identified were further investigated to determine the time lapse between brush biopsy and definitive tissue diagnosis.

Results: Four cases of brush biopsy negative squamous cell carcinoma were identified from 115 total cases of malignancy (3.5%). The average time from brush biopsy to tissue diagnosis was 117.25 days (range, 5 to 292 days).

Conclusion: False negative reports are possible with the oral brush biopsy technique. Persistent lesions should undergo tissue biopsy for definitive diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biopsy / methods*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology*
  • Diagnostic Errors*
  • False Negative Reactions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mouth Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Retrospective Studies