Oral Cancer Patients Undergoing Severe Pain Are At Higher Risk of Cancer Spreading, Study Suggests

Feb, 2021 - By SMI

Oral Cancer Patients Undergoing Severe Pain Are At Higher Risk of Cancer Spreading, Study Suggests

According to a new study led by the researchers of New York University (NYU) College of Dentistry have reported to find that there is more chances of oral cancer to spread in patients, who undergo high levels of pain. Moreover, patients with oral cancer experience pain during day-to-day activities such as eating and talking. Past researches suggests that patients with metastatic oral cancer undergo more severe pain when cancer spreads beyond the mouth, in comparison to those patients whose cancer has not spread. The new study highlights the reason behind this.

Aditi Bhattacharya, lead author, stated, “Clinicians and researchers are keen to define a biomarker that accurately predicts metastasis. Given that patients with metastatic oral cancer experience more pain, we thought that a patient's level of pain might help predict metastasis. A surgeon could then use this knowledge to only remove lymph nodes in patients with cancers that are most likely to metastasize.”

In the study, researchers involved 72 oral cancer patients and documented about their pain experience using an oral cancer pain questionnaire before surgery. Researchers informed that majority of the patients reported about pain, however patients with most pain were at higher risk to have cancer spreading to lymph nodes in the neck, indicating that patients with low pain are at lesser risk of metastasis.

In order to get a clear understanding about why metastatic cancers are more painful, researchers focused on differences in gene expression between metastatic cancers among patients with high levels of pain and patients not undergoing pain. Researchers identified 40 genes which significantly expressed in painful metastatic cancers, indicating that they stimulate metastasis and mediate cancer pain.

Later they conducted lab experiments to investigate on exosomes found in the extracellular fluid of oral cancer cells grown in the lab, and observed that the extracellular fluid when injected into animal models, it generated pain, and when the fluid was removed, it did not cause pain, indicating that exosomes from cancer might be the cause behind oral cancer pain. Researchers concluded that result findings may be useful to ease oral cancer pain.

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