Introduction: Oral cytopathology is able to detect incipient cellular alterations, but it is not routinely applied to this purpose. We aimed to establish a model to screen individuals with no oral lesion exposed to smoking/alcohol, by means of the nuclear area, cell proliferation rate, and analysis of genetic damage. Methods: In this cross-sectional pilot study, 90 patients were allocated into 3 groups: oral cancer group (patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma), tobacco/alcohol group (patients without oral lesions and exposed to these risk factors), and control group (individuals with no lesion and not exposed to tobacco and alcohol). The cytological smears performed in these individuals were stained with Papanicolaou, a silver-staining and a Feulgen reaction. The nuclei of cells were measured, and AgNORs/nucleus and micronuclei (MN) were quantified. The cutoff values were stipulated evaluating the healthy mucosa (control group) and the cancerization field mucosa (oral cancer group). Results: Cutoff values for the screening of individuals exposed to carcinogens were ≥8% of nuclei larger than 100 μm2, ≥3.38 AgNOR/nucleus, and ≥3 MN per 1,000 cells. Conclusions: Nuclear area measurement and AgNORs/nucleus and MN quantification identified the incipient phase of oral carcinogenesis. A screening model for individuals without oral lesion exposed to smoking/alcohol was proposed.

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