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Calibration improves the agreement in grading oral epithelial dysplasia-Findings from a National Workshop in Malaysia.

INTRODUCTION: A major pitfall of many of the established oral epithelial dysplasia (OED) grading criteria is their lack of reproducibility and accuracy to predict malignant transformation. The main objective of this study was to determine whether calibration of practicing oral pathologists on OED grading could improve the reproducibility of the WHO 2017 and the binary OED grading systems.

METHODS: A nationwide online exercise was carried out to determine the influence of calibration on the reproducibility of the WHO 2017 and the binary OED grading systems.

RESULTS: A significant improvement was observed in the inter-observer agreement for the WHO 2017 OED grading system (K 0.196 vs. 0.448; Kw 0.357 vs. 0.562) after the calibration exercise. The significant difference (p = 0.027) in the level of agreement between those with five or more years and less than 5 years of experience was no more observed (p = 0.426) after the calibration exercise. The percent agreement for binary grading was significantly higher (91.8%) for buccal mucosal lesions as compared to lesions on the tongue after the calibration exercise.

CONCLUSION: This study validates the significance of calibration in improving the reproducibility of OED grading. The nationwide exercise resulted in a statistically significant improvement in the inter-observer agreement for the WHO 2017 OED grading system among a large number of oral pathologists. It is highly recommended that similar exercises should be organized periodically by professional bodies responsible for continuing education among oral pathologists to improve the reliability of OED grading for optimal treatment of oral potentially malignant disorders.

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