The Latest Facts & Findings
Approximately 55,000 new cases and almost 12,000 deaths from oral cancers were estimated to occur in the United States in 2023. More than 90 percent of these cases were oral squamous cell carcinomas (OSCC). The overall five-year survival rate of OSCC patients is approximately 50 percent. The prognosis of OSCC patients is adversely influenced by cancer recurrence, which happens in 5 to 50 percent of patients.
One person dies of oral cancer every hour of every day. Historically oral cancer has been associated with the chronic and excessive use of tobacco and alcohol. More recently it has been shown that Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection is also associated with oral cancer. Capsazepine is a synthetic pain receptor antagonist that was discovered to have significant anti-tumor effects in animal models of oral cancer.
Oral cancer is
a significant health problem in South Texas, as mortality in Hispanic South Texans is much higher than state and national averages.
In the last 40 years
patient prognosis has improved only slightly, yet the incidence of oral cancer continues to increase.
Dr. Cara Gonzales recently discovered that capsazepine, a synthetic pain receptor antagonist, not only blocks pain but also has significant anti-tumor effects in animal models of oral cancer.
We are developing a non-invasive brush biopsy test for oral cancer using Lab-on-a-Chip technology that can be performed in 15 to 30 minutes at a patient’s first appointment.
Studies evaluating the efficacy of supercritical CO2 neem extract taken from the neem tree (Azadiracta indica) for prevention of oral cancer are under way.
Studies evaluating novel therapies co-targeting epigenetically regulated signaling pathways in oral cancer are being conducted by Dr. Cara Gonzales with Dr. Tim Huang and Dr. Nameer Kirma from the Department of Molecular Medicine.
The epidemiology of HPV associated oral cancer has been described in many U.S. regions, but not in South Texas. Dr. Spencer Redding and Stephanie Rowan lead studies to define the epidemiology here, particularly in the Hispanic population.