Researchers identified markers that predict progression of oral lesions to cancer

August 21, 2012

A group of molecular markers have been identified that can help clinicians determine which patients with low-grade oral premalignant lesions are at high risk for progression to oral cancer, according to data from the Oral Cancer Prediction Longitudinal Study published in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

"The results of our study should help to build awareness that not everyone with a low-grade oral premalignant lesion will progress to cancer," said Miriam Rosin, Ph.D., director of the Oral Cancer at the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. "However, they should also begin to give clinicians a better idea of which patients need closer follow-up."

Oral cancers are a global public health problem with close to 300,000 new cases identified worldwide each year. Many of these cancers are preceded by premalignant lesions. Severe lesions are associated with a high progression risk and should be treated definitively. However, the challenge within the field has been to distinguish which low-grade lesions are the most likely to progress to cancer.

In 2000, Rosin and colleagues used samples of oral premalignant lesions where progression to cancer was known to have subsequently occurred in order to develop a method for grouping patients into low-risk or high-risk categories based on differences in their DNA. In their current population-based study, they confirmed that this approach was able to correctly categorize patients as less or more likely to progress to cancer.

They analyzed samples from 296 patients with mild or moderate oral dysplasia identified and followed over years by the BC Oral Service, which receives biopsies from dentists and ENT surgeons across the province. Patients classified as high-risk had an almost 23-fold increased risk for progression.

Next, two additional DNA molecular risk markers called loss of heterozygosity were added to the analysis in an attempt to better differentiate patients' risks. They used the disease samples from the prospective study, and categorized patients into low-, intermediate- and high-risk groups.

"Compared with the low-risk group, intermediate-risk patients had an 11-fold increased risk for progression and the high-risk group had a 52-fold increase in risk for progression," Rosin said.

Of patients categorized as low-risk, only 3.1 percent had disease that progressed to within five years. In contrast, intermediate-risk patients had a 16.3 percent five-year progression rate and high-risk had a 63.1 percent five-year progression rate.

"That means that two out of every three high-risk cases are progressing," Rosin said. "Identifying which early lesions are more likely to progress may give clinicians a chance to intervene in cases, and may help to prevent unnecessary treatment in low-risk cases."

Explore further: Metformin may lower risk for oral cancer development

Related Stories

Metformin may lower risk for oral cancer development

April 2, 2012
New findings published in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, suggest that metformin may protect against oral cancer.

Most anal lesions don't cause cancer in men, research shows

March 23, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Anal human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and precancerous lesions are common among gay and bisexual men, but most of these cases will not progress to anal cancer, a new analysis of earlier research shows.

Barrett's esophagus carries lower risk of malignancy than previously reported

June 16, 2011
Patients with Barrett's esophagus may have a lower risk of esophageal cancer than previously reported, according to a large, long-term study published online June 16 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Breast density does not influence breast cancer death among breast cancer patients

August 20, 2012
The risk of dying from breast cancer was not related to high mammographic breast density in breast cancer patients, according to a study published August 20 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Recommended for you

Major study of genetics of breast cancer provides clues to mechanisms behind the disease

October 23, 2017
Seventy-two new genetic variants that contribute to the risk of developing breast cancer have been identified by a major international collaboration involving hundreds of researchers worldwide.

Proton therapy lowers treatment side effects in pediatric head and neck cancer patients

October 23, 2017
Pediatric patients with head and neck cancer can be treated with proton beam therapy (PBT) instead of traditional photon radiation, and it will result in similar outcomes with less impact on quality of life. Researchers from ...

New study shows how cells can be led down non-cancer path

October 23, 2017
As cells with a propensity for cancer break down food for energy, they reach a fork in the road: They can either continue energy production as healthy cells, or shift to the energy production profile of cancer cells. In a ...

Microbiologists contribute to possible new anti-TB treatment path

October 23, 2017
As part of the long effort to improve treatment of tuberculosis (TB), microbiologists led by Yasu Morita at the University of Massachusetts Amherst report that they have for the first time characterized a protein involved ...

Big Data shows how cancer interacts with its surroundings

October 23, 2017
By combining data from sources that at first seemed to be incompatible, UC San Francisco researchers have identified a molecular signature in tissue adjacent to tumors in eight of the most common cancers that suggests they ...

Symptom burden may increase hospital length of stay, readmission risk in advanced cancer

October 23, 2017
Hospitalized patients with advanced cancer who report more intense and numerous physical and psychological symptoms appear to be at risk for longer hospital stays and unplanned hospital readmissions. The report from a Massachusetts ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.