Oral tongue carcinoma among young patients: An analysis of risk factors and survival

Douglas R. Farquhar, April M. Tanner, Maheer M. Masood, Sagar R. Patel, Trevor G. Hackman, Andrew F. Olshan, Angela L. Mazul, Jose P. Zevallos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Introduction: The incidence of oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma (OTSCC) in younger adults has rapidly increased over the past two decades. While tobacco and alcohol use may be less likely to cause these tumors, it remains controversial whether differences also exist in their prognosis. Our aim is to examine the risk factors for cancer among young (<45 years old) OTSCC patients at our institution, and to compare their recurrence and survival with older patients in a matched cohort. Materials and methods: All OTSCC patients seen at our institution between 2000 and 2015 were reviewed. Patients under 45 who with sufficient treatment information were matched 1:1 on race, T-stage, and N-stage with patients 45 and older. Three-year recurrence and survival were determined in stratified and adjusted Cox regression models. Results: Of 397 OTSCC patients were seen at our institution, 117 (29%) were less than 45 years old. Younger patients were significantly more likely to be female, (50% vs. 39%; p = 0.04) and to abstain from tobacco (51% vs. 39%; p < 0.01). Young patients in the matched cohort were significantly more likely to have a recurrence (HR 3.9 95% CI 1.4–10.5). There was no difference in overall survival. Conclusion: Younger OTSCC patients in a matched cohort were more likely to recur within 3 years, although there was no difference in overall mortality. Differences in risk factors and recurrence between older and younger patients suggest that some cancer among younger patients may be distinct from traditional OTSCC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-11
Number of pages5
JournalOral Oncology
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • Oral cancer
  • Recurrence
  • Survival
  • Young adults


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