Oral cancers originate in the oral cavity and may spread to the neck and throat and local lymph nodes and can metastasize. These cancers are most commonly squamous cell carcinomas and are often very aggressive.
Cancers of the oral cavity, head, and neck are linked to drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, betel nut chewing, human papillomavirus infection, and nutritional deficiencies.
Phytochemicals are a useful adjunct therapy for both prevention and therapy.
The continuous increase in cancer cases, the failure of conventional chemotherapies, and the excessive toxicity of chemotherapies demand alternative cancer treatments.
Phytochemicals can inhibit or antagonize factors, which are dysregulated in cancer cells and may enhance the effects of conventional therapy or could be developed into a stand-alone therapy*
Phytochemicals may exert their chemopreventive properties by blocking the critical events of tumor initiation and promotion, thereby reversing the premalignant stage. Phytochemicals may also prevent tumorigenesis by inhibiting or slowing tumor progression or promoting cell differentiation. Furthermore, phytochemicals can enhance innate immune surveillance and improve the elimination of transformed cells.”**
Phytochemicals that impact multiple pathways active in the development, growth, progression, and spread of oral cancers include
- Black Raspberry anthocyanins
- Green Tea Catechins (EGCG, EGC, ECG)
- Curcuma longa (curcuminoids) (tumeric)
- Alliums: Garlic and Onions (allicin, s-allylcysteine)
- Resveratrol 3,4’,5-trihydroxy-trans-stilbene
- Lycopene carotenoid (tomatoes, red bell peppers)
- Astaxaxanthin and Canthaxanthin carotenoid xanthophylls (green leafy vegetables)
- Bromelain cysteine protease (pineapple)
For a detailed and thorough discussion of risk factors, etiologies, signs and symptoms, histopathology, molecular mechanisms and therapeutic interventions in oral, head, and neck cancers see:
** Kotecha R., Takami A., Espinoza J.L. Dietary phytochemicals and cancer chemoprevention: A review of the clinical evidence. Oncotarget. 2016;7:52517–52529. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.9593.