Objective detection and delineation of oral neoplasia using autofluorescence imaging

Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2009 May;2(5):423-31. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-08-0229. Epub 2009 Apr 28.


Although the oral cavity is easily accessible to inspection, patients with oral cancer most often present at a late stage, leading to high morbidity and mortality. Autofluorescence imaging has emerged as a promising technology to aid clinicians in screening for oral neoplasia and as an aid to resection, but current approaches rely on subjective interpretation. We present a new method to objectively delineate neoplastic oral mucosa using autofluorescence imaging. Autofluorescence images were obtained from 56 patients with oral lesions and 11 normal volunteers. From these images, 276 measurements from 159 unique regions of interest (ROI) sites corresponding to normal and confirmed neoplastic areas were identified. Data from ROIs in the first 46 subjects were used to develop a simple classification algorithm based on the ratio of red-to-green fluorescence; performance of this algorithm was then validated using data from the ROIs in the last 21 subjects. This algorithm was applied to patient images to create visual disease probability maps across the field of view. Histologic sections of resected tissue were used to validate the disease probability maps. The best discrimination between neoplastic and nonneoplastic areas was obtained at 405 nm excitation; normal tissue could be discriminated from dysplasia and invasive cancer with a 95.9% sensitivity and 96.2% specificity in the training set, and with a 100% sensitivity and 91.4% specificity in the validation set. Disease probability maps qualitatively agreed with both clinical impression and histology. Autofluorescence imaging coupled with objective image analysis provided a sensitive and noninvasive tool for the detection of oral neoplasia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Female
  • Fluorescence
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Precancerous Conditions / diagnosis*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity