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November 1996

Early Diagnosis of Upper Aerodigestive Tract Cancer by Autofluorescence

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, New England Medical Center, Tufts University, Boston, Mass (Drs Dhingra, McMillan, and Rebeiz and Mr Perrault); Department of Oral Pathology, Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, Boston (Dr Kabani); and the Laser Biomedical Research Center, George R. Harrison Spectroscopy Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge (Drs Manoharan, Itzkan, Feld, and Shapshay).

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1996;122(11):1181-1186. doi:10.1001/archotol.1996.01890230029007

Objective:  To explore the potential of autofluorescence spectroscopy as a tool for early detection of upper aerodigestive tract cancer.

Design:  Autofluorescence spectral characteristics of 19 untreated oral and oropharyngeal lesions in 13 patients were studied with excitation wavelengths of 370 and 410 nm generated by a nitrogen pumped dye laser. Ten healthy volunteers were recruited to characterize the fluorescence spectra of normal mucosa at different oral sites and to study individual variations. Fluorescence intensity and line shape of the spectra from lesions were compared with the same parameters from the contralateral control site in the same individual.

Setting:  Otolaryngology Research Center, Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, New England Medical Center, Boston, Mass.

Results:  The ratio of peak fluorescence intensities of the neoplastic lesions to contralateral normal control mucosa were consistently different compared with these ratios in benign lesions or normal mucosa. These differences were seen in 2 distinct regions of the fluorescence spectrum with both of the excitation wavelengths, but were more obvious with the excitation wavelength of 410 nm. Using these differences, we were able to correctly diagnose 17 of the 19 lesions studied, with 2 false-positive results.

Conclusions:  Neoplastic oral mucosa shows consistent differences in autofluorescence spectral intensity and line shape when compared with the normal mucosa in the same individual. These early results show that fluorescence spectroscopy may represent a useful technique for noninvasive early diagnosis of cancer of the upper aerodigestive tract.Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1996;122:1181-1186