Researchers at Glasgow's Beatson Institute have found that mouth cancer develops in two specific ways rather than from a single mechanism as previously believed. The study done for Cancer Research throws light on how different stages of oral cancer might be detected early.
Mouth cancer usually presents as sores, ulcers, red or white patches or unexplained pain in the mouth or ear. Other symptoms include lumps in their necks, a persistent sore throat or difficulty swallowing. In the current study, researchers examined samples from 19 people with pre-cancerous lesions, 16 people with definite cancer and four healthy samples as control.
They found that in the most developed form of cancer, there were distinct faults in the p53 gene, which is supposed to stop cells from dividing in an uncontrolled manner. In this form of cancer, researchers named cells as "immortal". The second was "mortal" cells, which were found in tumors that have limited life and will recede by themselves.
Commenting on the findings, Professor John Toy, medical director at Cancer Research UK, said, "Cases of mouth cancer in the UK have risen by a quarter over the past 10 years so these are valuable findings that will help scientists gain a clearer understanding the ways the disease can develop and progress."