Approximately one-third of people with oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) don’t survive it, but Boston University dental researchers have found deleting or inhibiting a protein in the tongue might stall tumor growth. The most common head and neck cancer—oral squamous cell carcinoma—often starts off, as many other cancers do, quite innocently--perhaps as a little white patch in the mouth or a small red bump on the gums. Easy to ignore, to downplay. But then something changes, and the little blotch becomes more ominous, starts growing, burrowing into connective tissue. Patients who are lucky enough to see a dentist before things take a nasty turn have a shot at being able to prevent the lesions from turning cancerous—or can at least make sure treatment starts when it’s most effective. But for those who aren’t that lucky, the outlook can be bleak: the five-year survival rate of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is approximately 66 percent. More than 10,000 Americans die of oral cancer every year; smokers and drinkers are hardest hit.
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