Use of Lugol's iodine in oral cancer diagnosis: an overview

Oral Oncol. 2010 Nov;46(11):811-3. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2010.07.013. Epub 2010 Aug 21.


Early diagnosis of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) still represents an important challenge for clinicians and patients. Vital staining such as toluidine blue and Lugol's iodine solution, are routinely used in the OSCC detection but few data exist about the last one. A literature review is made to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of Lugol's iodine solution in OSCC detection and in its margins demarcation. A review was made of the studies published between 1990 and 2010 in relation to the application of Lugol's iodine for OSCC detection and a better definition of its margins. Data obtained point to the utility and the safety of Lugol's iodine when employed for detection and margins delineation of OSCC and dysplasia. All the studies consulted found the Lugol's iodine to be effective, cheap and easy to use and they emphasized its importance in clinical practice. There is need for larger controlled, randomized studies with carefully selected and standardized outcome measures and patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / diagnosis*
  • Coloring Agents*
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iodides*
  • Male
  • Mouth Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Staining and Labeling


  • Coloring Agents
  • Iodides
  • Lugol's solution