New research has uncovered a new possibility in oral cancer treatment that could effectively stop cancer from growing, kill off all current cancer cells, and stop cancer from spreading elsewhere.
A research team in the UK has found a protein in the mouth that boosts cancer cell growth in the head and neck. The protein activates a process that helps oral cancer cells group and stick together. The higher the protein levels, the higher the risk that cancer will spread and come back. When they suppressed the creation of the protein in mice, cancer stopped growing completely.
What’s even more exciting is the fact that there are already drugs in production that block this protein. The team is next working toward starting tests on humans using these drugs. They hope to make this treatment a viable option for patients who have not had success with chemotherapy. Or, as an extreme best case scenario, the treatment could be the preferred method over chemotherapy if it is proven to be less hazardous to a patient’s health.
Head and neck cancer is an extremely aggressive form of mouth cancer with an extremely poor survival rate. Only 50% of all people diagnosed with head and mouth neck cancer survive for at least five years. Sadly, this number has not improved over the last 30 years. Only around 50 per cent of people with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma survive for at least five years. According to the researchers, this number has not improved over the last 30 years. Needless to say, this only expounds upon the importance of this research.
The team published their research in the July issue of the Cancer Research journal.