Oral premalignant lesions (OPLs) such as leukoplakia, erythroplakia, and oral submucous fibrosis, often precede oral cancer. Screening and management of these premalignant conditions can improve prognosis. Raman spectroscopy has previously demonstrated potential in the diagnosis of oral premalignant conditions (in vivo), detected viral infection, and identified cancer in both oral and cervical exfoliated cells (ex vivo). The potential of Raman exfoliative cytology (REC) in identifying premalignant conditions was investigated. Oral exfoliated samples were collected from healthy volunteers (
), healthy volunteers with tobacco habits (
), and oral premalignant conditions (
, OPL) using Cytobrush. Spectra were acquired using Raman microprobe. Spectral acquisition parameters were:
: 785 nm, laser power: 40 mW, acquisition time: 15 s, and average: 3. Postspectral acquisition, cell pellet was subjected to Pap staining. Multivariate analysis was carried out using principal component analysis and principal component-linear discriminant analysis using both spectra- and patient-wise approaches in three- and two-group models. OPLs could be identified with
(patient-wise) sensitivity in the three-group model while with 86% (spectra-wise) and 83% (patient-wise) in the two-group model. Use of histopathologically confirmed premalignant cases and better sampling devices may help in development of improved standard models and also enhance the sensitivity of the method. Future longitudinal studies can help validate potential of REC in screening and monitoring high-risk populations and prognosis prediction of premalignant lesions.