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Anticancer Res. 2002 Sep-Oct;22(5):2977-80.

Molecular aspects of oral cancer.

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Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Oral Biochemistry and Salivary Clinic, Rambam Medical Center, Bruce Rappaort Faculty of Medicine, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, POB 9649, 31096 Haifa, Israel.


Squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity is the sixth most frequent cancer in the world with approximately 30,000 new cases diagnosed annually in the United States. The overall 5-year survival rate for patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma is among the lowest for major cancers and has not changed during the past two decades. Despite therapeutic and diagnostic progress in oncology during the past decades, the prognosis of intraoral squamous cell carcinoma remains poor. Thus it seems that finding a biological tumor marker or tumor markers which will increase the early diagnosis and treatment monitoring rates, is of paramount importance in respect to improving prognosis. The latest studies pertaining to tumor markers and their role in the detection, diagnosis and treatment monitoring of oral squamous cell carcinoma are reviewed. The importance of cell surface markers including blood antigens, and growth factors and receptors, and intercellular markers including cytokeratins and AgNORs are discussed. Particular attention is paid to quantitative DNA (aneuploidy) and oncogenes. The pivotal tumor suppressor gene, p53, is dealt with in depth.

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