Biomarkers: A Powerful Armor for Diagnosis of Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma


Authors: Jerin Jose and Diana Daniel
Page Range: 223-238
Published in: Journal of Stem Cells, Volume 16 Issue 4
ISSN: 1556-8539

Table of Contents


According to global cancer statistics 2018 (GLOBOCAN 2018), cancer is the second leading cause of death globally. Estimated 18.1 million new cancer cases and 9.6 million cancer deaths. It is most common in India, accounting for 120000 with 90% of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). The incidence and mortality rate of cancer has shown a sharp increase over the last two decades. Most oral cancers are not diagnosed at an early stage even though they are easily accessible under direct visual examination. Mortality rates remain unchanged despite vast advances in the field of oncology. Therefore, more intense efforts are required to fight against life-threatening diseases and to reduce morbidity and mortality rates.

Biomarkers are powerful diagnostic tools that can be measured in bodily fluids such as blood, serum, plasma, and body secretions such as saliva. They release certain biochemical substances that are expressed in large quantities at the cell surface by malignant cells. The anatomical proximity of salivary biomarkers to oral cancer makes it the most accurate and specific diagnostic tool and it is a non-invasive alternative to serum testing. More than 100 salivary biomarkers have already been identified, including cytokines (IL-8, IL-1β, and TNF-a), P53, transferrin, DUSP, MMP, and LDH.

In recent years due to the revolution in molecular biology, the development of valid biomarkers has been a breakthrough in the field of cancer research and care. Substantial progress has been made in the development and clinical application of biomarkers and matched targeted therapies. The recent emergence of highly selective technologies has provided global information to observe genetic and proteomic alterations and to facilitate the discovery of new biomarkers with improved sensitivity and specificity. The use of biomarker-based diagnostics for cancer includes non-invasive screening for early-stage disease, detection and localization, risk assessment, disease stratification and prognosis, response to therapy and, for those in remission, screening for disease recurrence. The current chapter aims to elaborate on the importance of biomarkers as an early diagnostic tool in detecting oral squamous cell carcinoma.

Keywords: serum biomarker, oral cancer, salivary biomarker, oral squamous cell carcinoma