Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the influence of clinical cues on risk assessment of cancer-associated mucosal abnormalities.
Study design: We differentiated lesions with a low risk from those with a high risk for premalignancy or malignancy by using 4 cues: (1) color, (2) location, (3) induration, and (4) pain on exploration. Combinations of color and location were presented through 8 photographs, with induration and pain status variably presented in the standardized history and physical findings. This created 16 clinical scenarios (vignettes) that were permutations of the 4 cues. Three questions assessed the extent to which each cue was used in obtaining a clinical impression as to whether a lesion was benign, premalignant, or malignant.
Results: Completed vignette questionnaires were obtained from 130 of 228 invited dentists, (two-thirds males; 79% white; mean age 52 years; average weekly hours of practice 33 hours). Only 40% of the responding dentists had statistically significant decision policies to assign a clinical diagnosis of a lesion as benign, premalignant, or malignant. Lesion location and color were the 2 dominant cues. As a cue, induration was used as a cue by more of the respondents in determining a clinical diagnosis of malignancy, and pain was infrequently used as a cue.
Conclusions: Many dentists do not to have a decision strategy for the clinical diagnosis and risk stratification of oral potentially malignant lesions.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Inc.