A deficit in biopsying potentially premalignant oral lesions in Puerto Rico

Douglas E. Morse, Walter J. Psoter, Lumarie Cuadrado, Yves A. Jean, Joan Phelan, Khush Mittal, Carmen J. Buxó, Gustavo D. Cruz, Augusto Elias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Intraoral lesions clinically suspicious for cancer/precancer should be biopsied and diagnosed histopathologically. We evaluated whether the frequency of oral cancer (OC) cases diagnosed in Puerto Rico (PR) is disproportionately high relative to the frequency of persons with histopathologic diagnoses that would have appeared clinically suspicious for OC/precancer at biopsy. Methods: All pathology reports for oral (ICD-O-3 C01-C06) soft tissue biopsies generated during 1/2004-5/2005 by seven PR and two New York City (NYC) pathology laboratories were reviewed. The analysis was restricted to persons diagnosed with invasive oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), epithelial dysplasia, or hyperkeratosis/epithelial hyperplasia (HK/EH), i.e., diagnoses associated with lesions clinically suspicious for OC/precancer. The OC relative frequency measured the percentage of persons diagnosed with OSCC among persons with OSCC, dysplasia, or HK/EH. OC relative frequencies for PR and NYC laboratories were compared. Results: Overall, the OC relative frequency was 67% in PR and 40% and 4% in the NYC general and oral pathology laboratories, respectively (each p < 0.001). In PR, the OC relative frequency was highest for males (80%). When OC relative frequencies were stratified by pathology laboratory type (general/oral) and compared across PR and NYC, age/gender-specific OC relative frequencies were always higher in PR; however, differences were consistently statistically significant for males only. Conclusion: A disparity in the OC relative frequency exists in PR vs. NYC indicating a shortfall in biopsying potentially precancerous oral lesions in PR. PR residents with intraoral lesions suspicious for oral cancer/precancer are most likely to be biopsied only after developing an invasive OC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)424-430
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Epidemiology
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 2009


  • Biopsy
  • Early detection
  • Epithelial hyperplasia
  • Hyperkeratosis
  • Oral cancer
  • Oral dysplasia
  • Precancer
  • Premalignant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'A deficit in biopsying potentially premalignant oral lesions in Puerto Rico'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this