(HealthDay News) — The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) finds that there is currently not enough evidence to determine the benefits and harms of primary care screening of all adults for oral cancer, according to report it released April 8.

Researchers from the USPSTF reviewed the evidence to assess whether primary care professionals should screen their adult patients (age 18 years and older) for oral cancer. The primary screening test is a systematic clinical- or self-examination, including inspection and palpitation of the oral cavity. The Task Force concludes that the balance of benefits and harms cannot be determined, and an I statement has been issued, indicating insufficient evidence to produce a definitive recommendation. Noting that tobacco and alcohol use are risk factors for oral cancer, the Task Force recommends that clinicians screen adults for tobacco use, recommend against tobacco use, and encourage use of tobacco cessation interventions. Screening and behavioral counseling interventions in the primary care setting are also recommended to reduce alcohol misuse.

The draft Recommendation Statement is available for comment from April 9 to May 6, 2013.

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“The evidence shows that it is difficult to detect oral cancer and that the evidence is not clear whether oral cancer screening improves long-term health outcomes among the general adult population or among high-risk groups,” Task Force Member Jessica Herzstein, M.D., M.P.H., said in a statement .”We need more high-quality research on whether screening tests can accurately detect oral cancer and if screening adults for oral cancer in primary care settings improves health outcomes.”

Draft Recommendation Statement
Comment on Recommendations