Survival rates decline every year for patients with undiagnosed gum cancer known as primary gingival squamous cell carcinoma, report researchers at the New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center and Penn Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.
For each year diagnosis is delayed, the risk of disease-specific death rises by 2.5%, report the researchers. Also, with each 1-millimeter increase in tumor size, the risk of disease-specific death rose by 2.2%.
The study analyzed data of 4,345 patients in the United States diagnosed with the gum cancer from 1973 to 2015 to determine its characteristics and survival outcomes. The most cancerous lesions were found in older white patients and almost equally between men and women.
The researchers noted that gun cancer can be challenging to diagnose because most lesions found in the gingiva are noncancerous. Also, survival rates decline with age at diagnosis, as the cancer spreads into bone or lymph nodes, and in those who do not have surgery.
The five-year, disease-specific survival rate was 71%. By comparison, the five-year, disease-specific survival rate was 69% for those diagnosed at 70 or older, 57% for those whose cancer spread into adjacent bone, 49% for those who did not undergo surgery, and 44% for those whose cancer spread to at least one lymph node.
The gingiva is the third most common location for oral squamous cell carcinoma after the tongue and floor of the mouth, but no previous studies have evaluated the characteristics and survival outcomes of this particular cancer.
The researchers concluded that additional studies should evaluate disease-free survival and define the role of adjuvant therapies in reducing the mortality rate.
The study, “Which Clinicopathologic Factors Affect the Prognosis of Gingival Squamous Cell Carcinoma: A Population Analysis of 4,345 Cases,” was published by the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.