Background: Use of alcohol and tobacco are the major risk factors for cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx in most of the world. A heritable component to oral carcinoma risk also has been suggested, although only limited data are available on familial aggregation of this disease.
Methods: A population-based case-control study of 342 subjects with carcinomas of the oral cavity and pharynx (oral carcinoma) and 521 controls was conducted in Puerto Rico. The relation between family history of carcinomas of the oral cavity, the upper aerodigestive tract (UADT), and other selected sites with risk of oral carcinoma was explored using logistic regression modeling techniques.
Results: Risk of oral carcinoma was elevated for subjects reporting a first-degree relative with carcinoma of the oral cavity (odds ratio [OR], 2.5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.8-8.0) or any UADT carcinoma (OR, 2.6; 95% CI, 1.4-4.8). The increased risk associated with family history of UADT carcinoma tended to be greatest for subjects with known risk factors (i.e., heavy consumption of alcohol and/or tobacco and infrequent intake of raw fruits and vegetables) and with oral carcinoma diagnoses at ages younger than 65 years.
Conclusions: These findings are consistent with a heritable component to oral carcinoma, although shared lifestyle risk factors may be partially involved.
Copyright 2001 American Cancer Society.