Prevalence of malignant neoplastic oral lesions among children and adolescents: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Int J Paediatr Dent. 2021 Jul;31(4):504-519. doi: 10.1111/ipd.12765. Epub 2021 Mar 15.


Background: Malignant neoplasms that affect children and adolescents are predominantly embryonic and generally affect blood system cells and supporting tissues.

Aim: This study aimed to summarize the scientific evidence about the prevalence of malignant lesions in the oral cavity of children and adolescents.

Design: In this systematic review and meta-analysis (PROSPERO CRD42020158338), data were obtained from seven databases and the gray literature. Cross-sectional observational studies on the prevalence of biopsied oral pediatric malignancies were included. The Newcastle-Ottawa Scale assessed the quality of the included studies, and the GRADE approach evaluated the evidence certainty. The meta-analysis prevalence was calculated using MedCalc® software, adopting a 95% confidence level (CI; random-effect model).

Results: Forty-two studies were included in the meta-analysis. Of the 64,522 biopsies, the prevalence of malignant lesions was 1.93% (n = 1,100; 95% CI = 1.21%-2.80%). Countries with a low socioeconomic profile showed the highest prevalence. The sample size did not influence the prevalence of oral malignancies, and unspecified lymphomas (12.08%; 95% CI = 5.73%-20.37%) and rhabdomyosarcoma (10.53%; 95% CI = 7.28%-14.30%) were the most common lesions.

Conclusions: Oral malignant lesions biopsied in children and adolescents had a prevalence of <3%, and lymphomas and sarcomas were the most prevalent lesions.

Keywords: adolescent; child; lymphoma; mouth neoplasms; prevalence.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Mouth*
  • Neoplasms*
  • Prevalence