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


Background: Oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma (OTSCC) is the most common cancer diagnosed within theoral cavity worldwide. Many studies in India report OTSCC ranking among the top two most common subsiteswithin the oral cavity. India is often labeled the oral cancer capital of the world. The incidence of tongue cancersin the population-based cancer registry (PBCR) of Chennai is showing an increasing trend. A majority of theoral cavity cancers (85%) in our cancer center present in advanced stages (III and IV). In contrast, early tonguecancers (stages I and II) constitute nearly 45% of all OTSCCs. Aim: The aim of this study was to analyze theclinical profile and epidemiological trends in our early stage tongue cancer patients with an emphasis on tobaccoand alcohol habits. Materials and
Methods: This retrospective analysis was based on a prospectively collecteddatabase of 458 consecutive early stage OTSCC in-patients at a tertiary care oncology centre in Chennai between1995 and 2008.
Results: Our study suggests that the earlier trends have clearly changed whereby nearly halfof our patients are now never-tobacco users. The findings of the study indicate that a majority of the patientswere never alcohol users (86.4%) and nearly half of them were never tobacco users (49.3%), and they had thebest survival outcomes. This increasing trend of OTSCC among non-tobacco users is in contrast to our earlierexperience 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 withthe traditional risk factors, tobacco and alcohol.