The use of quantitative cytology in identifying high-risk oral lesions in community practice

Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol. 2012 Sep;114(3):358-64. doi: 10.1016/j.oooo.2012.06.008.


Objective: This study evaluated whether quantitative cytology (QC) can disclose abnormal DNA content (aneuploidy) and abnormal nuclear morphology of high-risk potentially malignant disorders (PMDs) of the oral mucosa found in the community in reference to clinicohistopathologic features.

Study design: A total of 171 patients at community-based clinic with suspicious oral lesions were evaluated with concurrent but independent histopathologic and QC assessments.

Results: QC-positive results were associated with oral lesions with higher clinical risk factors: large size, nonhomogeneous surface texture, and located at high-risk anatomic sites. Only 3% of benign/reactive and 5% of low-risk PMDs were QC positive, while 92% of high-risk PMDs and 88% of squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) were QC positive. The sensitivity and specificity of QC for detection of high-grade dysplasia/SCC were 89% and 97%.

Conclusions: QC could serve as an adjunctive tool for the detection of high-risk PMD/SCC requiring immediate clinical care.

MeSH terms

  • Aneuploidy
  • Biopsy
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Nucleus / pathology
  • Cell Shape
  • Cytodiagnosis / statistics & numerical data*
  • DNA, Neoplasm / analysis
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Mucosa / pathology
  • Mouth Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Palatal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Smoking
  • Tongue Neoplasms / pathology


  • DNA, Neoplasm