Researchers want to find out more about the causes of mouth and oropharyngeal cancer.
Scientists are looking into changes in genes that may make a cancer develop in the head and neck area. They are interested to know:
- which gene changes are important
- how the gene changes affect the immune system
- whether this can help develop better treatments in the future
Early research has identified gene changes that might cause head and neck cancer. But these findings need confirming in further studies.
Researchers are looking into new ways of collecting and testing cells from the lining of the mouth. Doctors hope that they can help to diagnose mouth cancer.
Usually doctors take a tissue sample (a biopsy) from the inside of the mouth to diagnose mouth cancer. But some studies are looking at taking biopsies using a soft bristle brush.
Scientists are also using different ways of looking at biopsy samples. Cells can be looked at with:
- a computer
- a microscope
- a device which shows how they move in an electric field (dielectrophoresis)
Researchers want to see if this improves mouth cancer diagnosis for patients.
Preventing cancer with diet, or with certain drugs or vitamins is called chemoprevention.
A diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables seems to reduce the risk of mouth cancer. But more information about this is needed. Some studies are looking into the links between diet and cancer.
Some researchers think that some antioxidant vitamins may help to prevent mouth and oropharyngeal cancer. This is when they are included in a healthy and balanced diet. Vitamin A, C and E are antioxidants. But we don't know for sure whether eating these can help to prevent cancer.