Oral Cancer


The following research articles have been fully or partially funded by the ADRF.

Assessment and validation of a diagnostic scale, oral care protocol, the prevention and treatment of oral mucositis in a paediatric population receiving cancer therapy.

Dr Gabrielle Allen, Associate Professor Tom Revesz, Professor Richard Logan, Professor Dorothy Keefe, Associate Professor Sam Gue

Cancer remains prevalent affecting 1 in 500 children. Increased survival has come with increased complications of therapy. One complications is oral mucositis; painful inflammation/ulceration of the oral mucosa. Information was collected from assessment of the oral cavity of children admitted and receiving cancer therapy. Oral mucositis occurred among 42.5% of inpatients. It was related to the cancer diagnosis, the type and day of chemotherapy regimen and the haematological status of the children. The length of admission was related to the severity of mucositis. 

Progression from dysplasia to cancer


M. Jessri, A Dalley, C.S Farah 

Oral cancer is frequently diagnosed at a late stage which limits patient care. Many oral cancers first present as pre-cancerous lesions, but not all will transform into cancer. We extracted DNA from two groups of oral lesion samples; those that did and did not turn into cancer. We then compared DNA from the two groups and found that they had different patterns of mutations. Lesions that turned into cancer frequently showed changes that could stop the DNA damage repair system in cells working properly. This result can be used to identify which oral lesions are more likely to transform to cancer. 


Genomic alterations of young patients with oral cancer

M. Jessri, A Dalley, C.S Farah 
Traditional risk factors for oral cancer include smoking, alcohol and age however oral cancer is also being identified in younger patients without these risk factors. We isolated DNA from oral cancer samples from younger and older patients and compared the pattern of mutations. Oral cancers from young patients frequently showed changes that could stop the DNA damage repair system in cells working properly. In the future this could help target treatment for young patients with oral cancer.

The effect of immune genetic variants on chemotherapy-induced gastrointestinal toxicity (CIGT) risk in patients receiving 5-fluorouracil

S.K. Korver, I.A. Ball, R,J. Gibson, R.M. Logan, C.S. Karapetis, D.M. Keefe, J.M. Bowen, J.K Coller

Chemotherapy toxicity impacts on quality of life and can impede therapy to cause poorer
long-term outcomes. This toxicity is due to increased inflammation in the gut but can’t be predicted before therapy. Our pilot study investigated markers of inflammation in people who had previously received chemotherapy. We observed a difference in inflammation in people who had different genetics, however, there was no overall difference between people who had no / mild toxicity versus those with severe toxicity. Hence our inflammation test can’t currently be used to predict toxicity risk.


The effect of matriptase on lymph node mast cell accumulation after UV irradiation

Simon Basha, Nur Hassan
Matriptase is a protein which is overexpressed in oral cancer. Mast cells are cells of the immune system. However, and a growing body of evidence implicates mast cells in cancer progression. In oral and skin cancers, mast cells appear to play a crucial role in suppressing the immune system after UV exposure. A key step in this process of immune suppression is the accumulation of mast cells in the skin and subsequent trafficking to local lymph nodes.
We investigated whether matriptase influences the accumulation of mast cells in lymph nodes following UV exposure. We found a trend suggesting that lack of matriptase impairs mast cell trafficking to lymph nodes after UV exposure. The results were not statistically significant, although the statistical power of the study was low due to sample size.


Predicting the presence of oral squamous cell carcinoma using commonly dysregulated microRNA in oral swirls

 T Yap, LJ Vella, C Seers, A Nastri, E Reynolds, N Cirillo, M McCullough

 This project studied molecules called microRNAs which are detectable in rapidly collected saliva samples, called oral swirls.  Using a detailed method called sequencing, microRNAs were studied in different types of samples from oral cancer patients and compared to individuals with no oral cancer.  A selected group of these microRNAs, found to be at different levels in oral cancer patients. were then studied in oral swirls and were found to be able to predict the presence of oral cancer accurately.

Non-invasive screening of a microRNA-based dysregulation signature in oral cancer and oral potentially malignant disorders

T Yap, C Seers, LJ Vella, K Koo, L Cheng, LJ Vella, AF Hill, E Reynolds, A Nastri, N Cirillo, M McCullough
This project studied a developed test based upon molecules called microRNAs detectable in rapidly collected saliva samples, called oral swirls.  The test was previously developed by comparing samples from patients with oral cancer compared those healthy controls. This was  studied in a larger group of oral cancer patients as well and patients with pre-cancerous oral skin changes.  The test was demonstrated to be useful to supplement standard-of-care assessment and exampled to parallel the development of oral cancer in a patient with pre-cancerous change.