In an online report published March 7 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the authors found an alarming trend: incidences of oral tongue cancer climbed 111% in young white females.
For the past thirty years, occurrences of oral cancer have increased in both white men and white women, ages 18 to 44, but the trend is most noticeably advancing in young white women at an alarming rate.
Lead author of the report Bhisham Chera, MD, is the assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.
Dr. Chera was quoted in Medscape Medical News stating, “Lately, we have been seeing more oral tongue cancer in young white women in our clinic. So we looked at the literature, which reported an increase in oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma in young white individuals, but couldn’t find any information about gender-specific incidence rates, so we decided we should take a look at the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results data.”
For the past three decades, oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma has been on the decline, while oropharyngeal squamous cell cancer has been on the rise. The authors of the report felt these changes were most likely due to the decreased use of tobacco and the association between the carcinogenic strains of HPV and cancer of the oral cavity.
Dr. Chera and the other authors reviewed the HPV status of their young white female patients with oral tongue tumors.
They did not find an association between HPV and the 111 percent rise in oral tongue cancer cases.
Due to the fact that oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma is not usually associated with HPV, the doctors are searching for the possible root cause for the stark increase in cases.
According to Medscape Medical News, the authors of the report noted that oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma in young white women “may be an emerging and distinct clinical entity, although future research is necessary before broad conclusions can be drawn.”
“Dentists and primary care physicians should be more cognizant of oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma in this group of patients,” said Dr. Chera. “At this point, the incidence is very small, and widespread screening may not be cost effective.”
“I would say that if a young white person has complaints of a persistent sore on their tongue, cancer should be moved up higher on the differential, based on our study,” he added. “Dentists should not only examine dental health but also examine the tongue. They are in a position to provide effective screening.”
Have you noticed an increase in cases in your dental practice?
To read the complete article, visit Medscape Medical News.