There is not enough evidence to recommend for or against screening for oral cancer, a government-backed panel said today, due to a lack of data on possible benefits and harms tied to screening. The most common causes of oral cancer are cigarette smoking and alcohol as well as the sexually-transmitted human papillomavirus, or HPV. The American Cancer Society estimates 36,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer in 2013 and close to 7,000 will die of the disease. Evidence is lacking on whether screening can accurately detect oral cancer and if earlier treatment of cancers found during those tests improves long-term health, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) found. "It's not that oral cancer screening has been shown to be ineffective or too risky or that it's been shown to be effective. The huge problem is a lack of studies," said Dr. Maura Gillison, who researches head and neck cancers at The Ohio State University in Columbus.
Reuters Health story: http://goo.gl/g6zwy