Early Stage Oral Tongue Cancer among Non-Tobacco Users - An Increasing Trend Observed in a South Indian Patient Population Presenting at a Single Centre

  • Published : 2013.09.30


Background: Oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma (OTSCC) is the most common cancer diagnosed within the oral cavity worldwide. Many studies in India report OTSCC ranking among the top two most common subsites within the oral cavity. India is often labeled the oral cancer capital of the world. The incidence of tongue cancers in the population-based cancer registry (PBCR) of Chennai is showing an increasing trend. A majority of the oral cavity cancers (85%) in our cancer center present in advanced stages (III and IV). In contrast, early tongue cancers (stages I and II) constitute nearly 45% of all OTSCCs. Aim: The aim of this study was to analyze the clinical profile and epidemiological trends in our early stage tongue cancer patients with an emphasis on tobacco and alcohol habits. Materials and Methods: This retrospective analysis was based on a prospectively collected database of 458 consecutive early stage OTSCC in-patients at a tertiary care oncology centre in Chennai between 1995 and 2008. Results: Our study suggests that the earlier trends have clearly changed whereby nearly half of our patients are now never-tobacco users. The findings of the study indicate that a majority of the patients were never alcohol users (86.4%) and nearly half of them were never tobacco users (49.3%), and they had the best survival outcomes. This increasing trend of OTSCC among non-tobacco users is in contrast to our earlier experience of tongue cancer more than five decades ago.The median age of patients in our study was 53.3 years; the male to female ratio was approximately 2:1. The median follow up for the 458 patients was 53 months. Conclusions: Our study importantly as well as interestingly shows a conspicuous absence of association with the traditional risk factors, tobacco and alcohol.


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