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Evaluation of Potentially Malignant Disorders in the Oral Cavity Clinical Practice Guideline (2017)

Dentist conducts oral cancer screeningA panel of experts convened by the American Dental Association (ADA) Council on Scientific Affairs presents a clinical practice guideline to inform clinicians about the potential use of adjuncts as triage tools for the evaluation of lesions, including potentially malignant disorders (PMDs), in the oral cavity.

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Key Points

  • Clinicians should obtain an updated medical, social, and dental history and perform an intraoral and extraoral conventional visual and tactile examination in all adult patients.
  • For patients with suspicious lesions, clinicians should immediately perform a biopsy of the lesion or refer the patient to a specialist.
  • Salivary and light-based adjuncts are not recommended for evaluating lesions for malignancy.

Additional Resources

Additional resources concerning the evaluation of oral lesions available via the tabs below, including: 

  • ADA chairside guide
  • Oral Health Topics page
  • ADA CE Online
  • MouthHealthy page
  • For the Patient page 
  • Video demonstrating how to check patients for oral cancer

View all guidelines