Evidence-based clinical practice guideline for the evaluation of potentially malignant disorders in the oral cavity: A report of the American Dental Association

Mark W. Lingen, Elliot Abt, Nishant Agrawal, Anil K. Chaturvedi, Ezra Cohen, Gypsyamber D'Souza, Jo Ann Gurenlian, John R. Kalmar, Alexander R. Kerr, Paul M. Lambert, Lauren L. Patton, Thomas P. Sollecito, Edmond Truelove, Malavika P. Tampi, Olivia Urquhart, Laura Banfield, Alonso Carrasco-Labra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Background An expert panel convened by the American Dental Association (ADA) Council on Scientific Affairs and the Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry conducted a systematic review and formulated clinical recommendations to inform primary care clinicians about the potential use of adjuncts as triage tools for the evaluation of lesions, including potentially malignant disorders (PMDs), in the oral cavity. Types of Studies Reviewed This is an update of the ADA's 2010 recommendations on the early diagnosis of PMDs and oral squamous cell carcinoma. The authors conducted a systematic search of the literature in MEDLINE and Embase via Ovid and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials to identify randomized controlled trials and diagnostic test accuracy studies. The authors used the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation approach to assess the certainty in the evidence and to move from the evidence to the decisions. Results The panel formulated 1 good practice statement and 6 clinical recommendations that concluded that no available adjuncts demonstrated sufficient diagnostic test accuracy to support their routine use as triage tools during the evaluation of lesions in the oral cavity. For patients seeking care for suspicious lesions, immediate performance of a biopsy or referral to a specialist remains the single most important recommendation for clinical practice. In exceptional cases, when patients decline a biopsy or live in rural areas with limited access to care, the panel suggested that cytologic testing may be used to initiate the diagnostic process until a biopsy can be performed (conditional recommendation, low-quality evidence). Conclusions and Practical Implications The authors urge clinicians to remain alert and take diligent action when they identify a PMD. The authors emphasize the need for counseling because patients may delay diagnosis because of anxiety and denial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)712-727.e10
JournalJournal of the American Dental Association
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • American Dental Association
  • clinical recommendations
  • diagnostic test accuracy
  • oral squamous cell carcinoma
  • potentially malignant disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)


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