Research in Focus
PAIN Magazine Features Dr. Brian Schmidt's Research on Its Cover

Dr. Brian L. Schmidt

Findings Show That Orofacial Pain Onset Predicts Transition to Head and Neck Cancers

The cover of the May 2011 issue of PAIN magazine, the official publication of the International Association for the Study of Pain, features a report on research conducted by Dr. Brian Schmidt, professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery and director of the Bluestone Center for Clinical Research, that finds that the transformation of oral precancerous lesions into malignancy is associated with pain. Dr. Schmidt's research was conducted in collaboration with Dr. David Lam of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Dr. Lam was Dr. Schmidt's last surgical fellow at UCSF before Dr. Schmidt joined NYUCD last year.

According to Dr. Schmidt and Dr. Lam, detecting head and neck cancer in the first stages can improve survival by as much as 90 percent. "Although pain is often recognized as an important symptom," they note, "a clinical aphorism has been that early head and neck cancers often go unnoticed because they are asymptomatic." They conclude that the onset of pain "may be the best clue to the progression of oral precancer to cancer and should be included in the clinical assessment of patients to identify a high-risk group to whom to apply screening strategies for early cancer detection."