Oral metal contact allergy: a pilot study on the cause of oral squamous cell carcinoma

Int J Dermatol. 2006 Mar;45(3):265-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-4632.2004.02417.x.


Background: Intraoral metal contact allergy may result in mucositis that mimics lichen planus and the pathogenesis of squamous cell carcinoma.

Methods: Clinical records of all patients examined in the departments of dermatology and otorhinolaryngology at a tertiary-care academic medical center between June 1994 and June 2000 who had a diagnosis of intraoral squamous cell carcinoma adjacent to a metal dental restoration and who were patch tested with our metal series were reviewed retrospectively. Eleven patients met the inclusion criteria.

Results: Ten patients (91%) had positive patch tests to metals. In eight (73%), the oral cancer was adjacent to a dental restoration containing a metal to which the patient was allergic. Prevalence of gold, mercury, silver, and copper allergy among these patients was substantially higher than that reported in the available worldwide patch-test clinic population.

Conclusion: Contact allergy to metal dental restorations may be a risk factor for development of intraoral squamous cell carcinoma.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / etiology*
  • Dental Restoration, Permanent / adverse effects*
  • Dermatitis, Contact / diagnosis
  • Dermatitis, Contact / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metals / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Patch Tests
  • Pilot Projects
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Metals