Background: Clinical evaluation of preneoplastic lesions of the oral cavity is difficult. Histopathologic grading of dysplasias shows large variability and does not give reliable information concerning the risk for progression to cancer.
Methods: DNA image cytometry and p53 immunostaining were performed to describe the pattern of DNA aberration and p53 overexpression in confined preneoplastic lesions and in the subsequent carcinomas developing at the same site in 20 patients.
Results: Hyperplastic and/or inflammatory lesions showed a diploid DNA pattern in 81% of the cases and 23% were p53-positive. Dysplastic preneoplastic lesions showed a nondiploid/ aneuploid DNA pattern in 73% and 64% were p53-positive. The subsequent invasive carcinomas were nondiploid/aneuploid in 86% and p53-positive in 69% of cases.
Conclusions: Analysis of nuclear DNA content and p53 immunostaining appears to be useful as an adjunct to histopathology in the evaluation of true precancerous lesions.