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Early-onset oral cancer as a clinical entity: aetiology and pathogenesis

Published:April 26, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijom.2022.04.005

      Abstract

      Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is one of the most important medical and socio-economic problems in many of the developed countries worldwide, due to the high mortality. The incidence of OSCC among individuals under 45 years of age is growing every year; however, the aetiological factors and pathogenetic mechanisms are poorly understood. This review summarizes the available information regarding clinicopathological features, extrinsic and intrinsic aetiological factors, and the molecular and immune landscape of early-onset OSCC. This cancer shows high recurrence rates and is not associated with the aetiological factors specific to adult-onset OSCC. Young adults with OSCC are not infected with human papillomavirus and rarely consume alcohol or tobacco, but more frequently use smokeless tobacco. Data from single studies indicate the hereditary nature of early-onset OSCC: the KIR2DL1+-HLA-C2+ genotype and MMP-1 2 G allele are frequently detected in young patients. Early-onset OSCC shows specific genetic, epigenetic, transcriptomic, and proteomic changes. The tumour microenvironment in early-onset OSCC is tolerogenic rather than immunogenic. All of the data suggest that OSCC in young patients is a separate clinical entity with a specific aetiology and pathogenesis. Further studies are needed to reveal the causes and molecular targets of early-onset OSCC for the development of preventive and therapeutic strategies.

      Keywords

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