Background: A considerable proportion of oral cancer and precancer is not clinically apparent and could contribute significantly to the late diagnosis and high mortality of oral cancer. A simple method to identify such occult change is needed.
Methods: Patients in the Oral Dysplasia Clinics at British Columbia are currently being examined with a simple hand-held device that permits the direct visualization of alterations to autofluorescence in the oral cavity. Tissue showing loss of autofluorescence is biopsied.
Results: We present 3 representative cases in which occult lesions were identified with fluorescence visualization during longitudinal follow-up, resulting in the diagnosis of a primary dysplasia in case 1, a second primary cancer in case 2, and cancer recurrence in case 3.
Conclusions: This is the first report of the diagnosis of occult oral disease using a simple noninvasive device. These early examples indicate the potential value of this technology to guide the management of patients with oral lesions, facilitating the detection of high-risk changes not apparent with white-light visualization.