Objective: To evaluate the clinical potential of fluorescence spectroscopy (a noninvasive technique for assessing the chemical and morphologic composition of tissue) for in vivo detection of oral cavity neoplasia.
Design: A fluorescence spectroscopy system recorded spectra from oral cavity sites in 8 healthy volunteers and in 15 patients with premalignant or malignant oral cavity lesions at 337-, 365-, and 410-nm excitation wavelengths in the emission range of 350 to 700 nm. Fluorescence peak intensities and spectral line shapes were compared and diagnostic algorithms were developed to distinguish normal sites from abnormal sites.
Setting: The head and neck cancer clinic at a tertiary referral center in Houston, Tex.
Results: Differences were found in spectra from normal, dysplastic, and malignant oral mucosa. The fluorescence intensity of normal mucosa was greater than that of abnormal areas. In addition, the ratio of red region (635-nm) to blue region (455-490-nm) intensities was greater in abnormal areas. Diagnostic discrimination was achieved when test site spectra were compared with spectra from a normal site in the same patient. One diagnostic algorithm based on spectra at 337 nm gave a sensitivity of 88% and a specificity of 100%.
Conclusions: Consistent differences exist between the fluorescence spectra of abnormal and normal oral mucosa. Therefore, fluorescence spectroscopy has the potential to improve the noninvasive diagnosis of oral cavity neoplasia. Further studies will better define the role of this technique in the detection of premalignant and early oral cancer lesions.