The oral cancer in the mice was similar to a metastatic cancer cell in humans, leading researchers to believe the information might be transferable with more data and research behind it.
"We didn't automatically assume this mouse model would be relevant to human oral cancer," said Ravindra Uppaluri, MD, PhD, and associate professor of otolaryngology. "But it turns out to be highly reflective of the disease in people. All patients with advanced head and neck cancer get similar treatments. We have patients who do well on standard combinations of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, and patients who don't do so well. We're interested in finding out why."
The mice were provided carcinogens to develop the cancer, done purposely to represent the way that humans typically develop the disease through the use of cigarettes and other tobacco related products.
Patients often have a history of tobacco and alcohol use, which drive the development of these tumors," Uppaluri said. "We felt that exposing the mice to a carcinogen would be more likely to produce similar kinds of tumors."
Technology is now being used that has predicted 93% of the aggressive cancerous cells correctly. With this information and technology, the goal is to be able to diagnose and treat oral cancer more efficiently and effectively.