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NYU and UCSF researchers develop a framework for monitoring oral cancer
Date:6/10/2014

Each year, approximately 22,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer. The five-year survival rate of 40% in the U.S. is one of the lowest of the major cancers, and it has not improved in the past 40 years. More people die each year in the U.S. from oral cancer than from melanoma, cervical, or ovarian cancer. Worldwide, the incidence of oral cancer is increasing, particularly among young people and women, with an estimated 350,000 400,000 new cases diagnosed each year.

"The major risk factors, tobacco and alcohol use, alone cannot explain the changes in incidence, because oral cancer also commonly occurs in patients without a history of tobacco or alcohol exposure," said Dr. Brian Schmidt, professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery and director of the Bluestone Center for Clinical Research at the NYU College of Dentistry (NYUCD).

Changes in the microbial community are commonly associated with dental diseases such as periodontal disease, which is most likely a poly-microbial disease characterized by outgrowth of certain pathologic organisms, and chronic periodontitis has been reported to be a risk factor for oral premalignant lesions and cancers.

"We know that other cancers, including gallbladder, colon, lung and prostate, have been associated with particular bacterial infections, so we hypothesized that shifts in the composition of the normal oral cavity microbiome could be promoters or causes of oral cancer," said Dr. Albertson.

Drs. Schmidt and Albertson and their team profiled cancers and anatomically matched contralateral normal tissue from the same patient by sequencing 16S rDNA hypervariable region amplicons. The team's findings, "Changes in abundance of oral microbiota associated with oral cancer," published on-line in the journal PLOS ONE (June 2014), begin to develop a framework for exploiting the oral microbiome for monitoring oral cancer development, progression and recurrence.

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Contact: Christopher James
christopher.james@nyu.edu
212-998-6876
New York University
Source:Eurekalert

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