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Background: Oral cancers have remained a global burden amidst the inadequate access to healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa. This study investigated the histological pattern of oral and maxillofacial biopsies in north-central Nigeria.
Methods: A retrospective analysis was carried out on 167 oral and maxillofacial biopsies obtained over a six year period in a tertiary hospital in Makurdi, Nigeria.
Results: The 167 biopsy samples had a mean age of 34.4±18.0 years. There were 65 males (38.9%) and 102 females (61.1%). Benign conditions constituted 76.6% (n=128/167) while the malignant tumours were 23.4% (n=39/167). The benign conditions had a mean age of 32.3±16.3 years. These had 44 (34.4%) males and 84 (65.6%) females, and 1:1.9 male: female (m:f) ratio. Inflammatory and reactive lesions were the most common benign conditions and constituted 26.6% (n=34/128) followed by odontogenic tumours (21.1%, n=27/128). Ameloblastoma (18.5%, n=24/128) was the most frequent benign odontogenic tumour. The malignant tumours had a mean age of 40.9±21.6 years. Malignant cases had 21 (53.8%) males and 18 (46.2%) females (m:f ratio, 1:2). The common malignant tumours were squamous cell carcinoma (28.2%, n=11/39), adenoid cystic carcinoma (23.1%, n=9/39) and rhabdomyosarcoma (10.3%, n=4/39) in descending order of frequency. Biopsies in the paediatric age groups contributed 20.5% of the malignant lesions and most of them (7.7%, n=3/39) were rhabdomyosarcomas.
Conclusion: Most of the cases were inflammatory conditions. Ameloblastoma and squamous cell carcinoma were the most frequent benign and malignant tumours, respectively.