Oral cancer in the UK: to screen or not to screen

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Although oral squamous cell carcinoma accounts for only a small proportion of malignant neoplasms in the UK, oral cancer incidence and mortality rates have been rising in recent years. The natural history of oral cancer is not adequately understood at present and there is very little information about the epidemiology of precancerous lesions in the UK. There are also insufficient data to provide firm evidence that the percentage of cases arising de novo is greater in the UK and the Western world as compared to the Indian subcontinent. Screening for oral cancer by visual examination is simple, inexpensive and causes little discomfort; however, there is no evidence for the effectiveness of screening for oral cancer either in reducing mortality from the disease or in reducing the incidence of invasive disease by detection and treatment of precancerous lesions. There is currently insufficient evidence to recommend population screening for oral cancer in the UK. Measures aimed at primary prevention of the disease may be a more feasible method of disease control at present.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)454-465
Number of pages12
JournalOral Oncology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1998

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