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Aggressive Oral Tongue Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Young, Non-Smokers and Non-Drinkers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Brianna M. Jones, MD

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
New York, NY

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Oral tongue cancer has traditionally been a diagnosis associated with older age and habitual tobacco or alcohol use. However, in the past few decades there has been a disproportionate increase in oral tongue cancer in young patients, particularly in those without a prior history of significant alcohol or tobacco use. In the literature, these young patients without traditional risk factors seem to represent a distinct clinical entity with worse oncologic outcomes. The purpose of this study was to compare young patients (age ≤45) to older patients (>45) with oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma (OTSCC) without habitual smoking or drinking history. 

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MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: We retrospectively reviewed clinical and pathologic characteristics, as well as, outcomes in all patients at our institution. Our analysis found more adverse pathologic findings such as advanced stage, depth of invasion, and lymphovascular invasion in older patients. Despite more aggressive pathologic features, the  younger cohort also had significantly higher rates of locoregional and distant failure compared to older patients. 

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report? 

Response: Young patients diagnosed with oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma without habitual tobacco or alcohol use seem to have a more aggressive phenotype and worse prognosis compared to older patients. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: The etiology and pathogenesis remains unclear for this cohort of patients, but is subject of ongoing research. There is some data that suggests that oncogenic HPV infections and various genetic mutations may play a role in pathogenesis of OTCC in young patients. Future studies exploring etiology, biologic correlates, and predictors of poor outcomes to further optimize treatment and surveillance options for this population is warranted. It is possible that young patients may benefit from dose-escalation of radiation or alternative chemotherapy regimens, but this still remains unclear. 

I would like to thank all the contributing investigators at Mount Sinai and medicalresearch.com for inviting me for this interview. We hope that this research will help improve treatment and management of young patients with oral tongue cancer. I have no disclosures or conflicts of interest.


Pathologic Features and Outcomes for Oral Tongue Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Young, Non-Smoker, and Non-Drinker Population
Jones, B. et al.
International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics, Volume 108, Issue 3, e810 – e811


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Last Updated on November 10, 2020 by Marie Benz MD FAAD