Predicting the aggressiveness of oral cancers in humans could help tailor appropriate treatment and optimize outcomes, similar to the current approach to other cancer types such as breast cancer. However, to date, no diagnostic test is available that can predict the aggressiveness of oral cancer in humans. But that soon may change.
Results of a recently published study that looked at the genetic expression of oral cancer in mice found that specific types of murine oral cancer are highly relevant to human oral cancer, and that the gene signature associated with tumor spread in mice was similar to the same gene signature found in oral cancer samples in humans who had aggressive metastatic tumors.
The researchers, from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, repeatedly exposed mice to two known carcinogens associated with the development of oral cancer in humans–tobacco and alcohol. As in humans, exposure of these carcinogens resulted in some tumors in mice that did not spread and some that became aggressive and metastasized.