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Oral cancer is one of the most mutilating diseases afflicting mankind. Precancerous lesions, conditions, and early stage oral cancers cannot be adequately identified by visual inspection alone and may be easily overlooked and neglected. Differentiation between early stage cancers, precancerous lesions and benign lesions is often difficult because of the similar appearance of these lesions. Moreover progressing premalignant lesions may be genetically different from their morphologically similar non-progressing counterparts.
Early diagnosis is one of the most important single factors in combating oral cancer. Definitive diagnosis of malignant and benign lesions is commonly based on histological examination but a noninvasive and simple screening test may be desirable as an adjunctive method. Thus a method of detecting oral cancers and precancerous lesions at early curable stages is crucial and may lead to a reduction in the currently unacceptably high oral cancer morbidity and mortality rate.
This article tries to briefly overview the various diagnostic aids and recent advances in early cancer detection.