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Oral Oncol. 2007 Jul;43(6):523-34. Epub 2007 Jan 26.

Advances in the biology of oral cancer.

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Molecular Carcinogenesis Group, Laboratory of Histology and Embryology, Medical School, University of Athens, Antaiou 53 Str., Lamprini, Ano Patissia, GR-11146 Athens, Greece.


The incidence of oral cancer remains high and is associated with many deaths in both Western and Asian countries. Several risk factors for the development of oral cancer are now well known, including smoking, drinking and consumption of smokeless tobacco products. Genetic predisposition to oral cancer has been found in certain cases but its components are not yet entirely clear. In accordance with the multi-step theory of carcinogenesis, the natural history of oral cancer seems to gradually evolve through transitional precursor lesions from normal epithelium to a full-blown metastatic phenotype. A number of genomic lesions accompany this transformation and a wealth of related results has appeared in recent literature and is being summarized here. Furthermore, several key genes have been implicated, especially well-known tumor suppressors like the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors, TP53 and RB1 and oncogenes like the cyclin family, EGFR and ras. Viral infections, particularly with oncogenic HPV subtypes and EBV, can have a tumorigenic effect on oral epithelia and their role is discussed, along with potential therapeutic interventions. A brief explanatory theoretical model of oral carcinogenesis is provided and potential avenues for further research are highlighted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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