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    Oral Cancer Screening (PDQ®): Screening - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Overview

    Note: Separate PDQ summaries on Oral Cancer Prevention and Lip and Oral Cavity Cancer Treatment are also available.


    There is inadequate evidence to establish whether screening would result in a decrease in mortality from oral cancer.

    Magnitude of Effect: No evidence of benefit or harm.

    Study Design: Evidence obtained from one randomized controlled trial.
    Internal Validity: Poor.
    Consistency: Not applicable (N/A).
    External Validity: Poor.


    Harms have not been systematically studied and cannot be quantified based upon the literature. However, there are some unavoidable harms that would be associated with routine screening, including:

    • Detection of cases that are already incurable, leading to increased morbidity.
    • Unnecessary treatment associated with overdiagnosis.
    • Psychologic consequences of false-positive tests.
    • Misdiagnosis due to variability in assessment of biopsies.

    Magnitude of Effect: Unknown.

    Study Design: Observational studies.
    Internal Validity: Poor.
    Consistency: N/A.
    External Validity: Poor.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

    Last Updated: May 28, 2015
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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