Oral Cancer Tests Reveal Additional Health Issues

Dentistry Today


Routine tests used to guide treatment for oral cancers can reveal two or more significant chronic health conditions, enabling doctors to better evaluate those patients, according to researchers at the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich.

Typically conducted during the initial steps of cancer treatment plans, these exams for oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) help discover comorbidities in patients. The researchers say that clinicians should evaluate previously undiagnosed conditions found on imaging studies.

Also, the researchers concluded that imaging staging examinations facilitate, accelerate, and improve the pre-therapeutic diagnostic process in OSCC patients, enabling clinicians to assess these patients more accurately and provide tailored, individual treatment plans.

The study involved 178 adults with OSCC who underwent a commonly used staging examination known as fluorodeoxyglucose positron-emission tomographic computed tomography (FDG-PET/CT) or contrast-enhanced computed tomography (ceCT).

Using the Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) to measure comorbidity before and after staging, the imaging studies revealed many previously unknown comorbidities and a considerable increase of the average CCI score.

The most common site of distant metastasis of the OSCC was the lung. The most coexisting cancers appeared in the esophagus, colon, and organs and tissues of the respiratory tract and upper part of the digestive tract.

The most frequently and newly detected comorbidities found by imaging were lung emphysema, abdominal pathologic processes, vascular disease, and second cancers.

The researchers noted that their imaging findings might only enhance but not replace basic clinical, laboratory, and imaging techniques. They also said that comorbidity assessment only can be accurate and comprehensive if all sources of information are used.

Still, the researchers concluded, whole-body imaging examination modalities such as FDG-PET/CT and ceCT are useful, fast, and cost-effective screening tools that provide important comorbidity information.  

The study, “Comorbidity Assessment in Patients with Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Can Imaging Techniques (Fludeoxyglucose Positron-Emission Tomographic Computed Tomography and Contrast-Enhanced Computed tomography) Provide Additional Information?” was published by the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

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