HealthDay News — The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has found there is currently insufficient evidence to recommend screening asymptomatic adults for oral cancer in primary care settings.

Virginia A. Moyer, MD, MPH, on behalf of the USPSTF, and colleagues updated the 2004 recommendation on screening for oral cancer. To examine whether screening for oral cancer reduced morbidity or mortality, the researchers conducted a comprehensive evidence review. In addition, the accuracy of the oral screening examination for identifying oral cancer or potentially malignant disorders with high likelihood of progression to oral cancer was assessed.

The final recommendation statement is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Based on the evidence, the USPSTF cannot recommend for or against oral screening in asymptomatic adults seen by primary care providers. The recommendation relates to oral cavity screening performed by primary care providers, not otolaryngologists or dental providers.

“We need more research on the effectiveness of oral cancer screening in primary care offices and also on the relationship between oropharyngeal cancer and human papillomavirus (HPV), ways of preventing HPV infection, and new screening techniques for HPV-related head and neck cancer,” Task Force co-vice chair Albert Siu, MD, MSPH, said in a statement.


  1. Moyer VA et al. Ann Intern Med. 2013; doi:10.7326/M13-2568.