OBJECTIVES: This systematic review aimed to analyze the published evidence for the use of oral brush cytology for the early detection of oral cancer and oral potentially malignant disorders (OPMDs).
METHODS: Literature was systematically searched through several databases: MEDLINE, EMBASE, PubMed, SCOPUS, Cochrane Library, and Web of Science. Additional review was performed through cross-checks on the bibliographies of selected articles. The inclusion criteria involved studies assessing the utility of oral brush cytology on human tissues and its applications in the diagnosis, screening, or surveillance of oral cancer or OPMDs.
RESULTS: The search strategy resulted in 343 abstracts or full-text articles, of which 36 met the inclusion criteria. The year of publication ranged from 1994 to 2017, and a total of 4302 samples from OPMDs, oral squamous cell carcinoma, and healthy controls have been investigated. Baby toothbrush, cytobrush, OralCDx® , and Orcellex® are the brushes that were used to obtain transepithelial mucosal samples for conventional and liquid-based cytology evaluation.
CONCLUSIONS: Findings from this study indicate that meaningful evidence-based recommendations for the implementation of a minimally invasive technique to be utilized as an adjunctive tool for screening and early detection of oral cancer and OPMDs are complicated from the reported studies in the literature. There is need for well-designed clinical studies to assess the accuracy of oral brush cytology utilizing validated cytological assessment criteria for the diagnosis and prediction of OPMDs.