Oral tongue cancer increasing in young, white females: US study

March 9th, 2011 - 3:11 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, March 09 (ANI): A UNC study has found an increasing incidence of squamous cell carcinoma of the oral tongue in young white females in the United States over the last three decades.

A team of researchers from UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center analyzed data from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database and found that, between 1975 and 2007, the overall incidence for all ages, genders, and races of the disease was decreasing. However, the incidence of oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma rose 28 percent among individuals ages 18 to 44.

Specifically, among white individuals ages 18 to 44 the incidence increased 67 percent. The increasing incidence was most dramatic for white females ages 18 to 44. They had a percentage change of 111 percent. Interestingly, the incidence decreased for African American and other racial groups.

Over the past decade an association between the human papilloma virus with squamous cell carcinoma of the tonsil and tongue has been observed. Patients with human papilloma virus associated oral squamous cell carcinoma are typically male, white, non-smokers, non-drinkers, younger in age and have higher socioeconomic status. The researchers at UNC have preliminarily tested the cancers of the oral tongue of their young white female patients and have not found them to be associated with the virus. Other institutions have also noted the absence of the virus in young females with oral tongue cancer. The UNC researchers have also anecdotally observed that these young white female patients are typically non-smokers and non-drinkers.

“Our findings suggest that the epidemiology of this cancer in young white females may be unique and that the causative factors may be things other than tobacco and alcohol abuse. Based on our observations and the published data, it appears that these cases may not be associated with the human papilloma virus. We are actively researching other causes of this cancer in this patient population,” said Bhisham Chera, lead author on the study and assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology.

The study has been published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. (ANI)

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