Background: Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is an important malignancy throughout the world; early detection is an important criterion for achieving high cure rate. Out of the many reported markers for OSCC, this study validated the efficacy of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF- α) in differentially diagnosing premalignant oral lesions and OSCC. Also, the study aimed to correlate the levels of salivary and serum TNF-α with clinicopathologic factors. Materials and
Methods: A prospective experimental laboratory study was designed. Serum and salivary samples from 100 subjects in each group of healthy control, premalignant disease (PMD) and OSCC were collected for the study following appropriate exclusion and inclusion criteria. Serum and salivary level of TNF-α was analysed by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay. The data obtained were subjected to appropriate statistical analysis.
Results: Increased level of both serum and salivary TNF- α was observed in OSCC subjects compared to healthy control and PMD group. Receiver operator characteristic curve analysis and area under curve values showed high specificity and sensitivity for salivary TNF-α in differentiatingOSCC from PMD and healthy controls. There was significant increase in TNF- α level in moderately and poorly differentiated lesion compared to well differentiated lesion and in stage IV of clinical stage. A positive correlation was observed only with histological grading of OSCC and TNF- α.
Conclusions: Salivary TNF-α is proved to be superior for detecting OSCC. Increase in TNF-α with histological grading and clinical staging suggests a role in prognosis.