Induction of apoptosis in oral cancer cells: agents and mechanisms for potential therapy and prevention

Oral Oncol. 2004 May;40(5):461-73. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2003.09.012.


Oral cancer is one of the most disfiguring types of cancer, since the surgical removal of the tumor may result in facial distortion. Oral cancer is also known to exhibit "field cancerization", resulting in the development of a second primary tumor. Furthermore, the five-year survival rate of this disease has remained approximately 50% during the past 30 years. Prevention and early detection/treatment of oral cancer could significantly improve the quality of life for individuals at risk. Recently, the targeted elimination of oral squamous cell carcinoma cells by inducing apoptosis has emerged as a valued strategy to combat oral cancer. Studies utilizing a variety of chemical or biological interventions demonstrated promising results for induction of apoptosis in oral malignant cells. This review summarizes the results of a number of investigations focused specifically on induction of apoptosis in oral cancer cells by synthetic compounds and naturally occurring chemopreventive agents with apoptotic potential.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Biological Factors / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / physiopathology
  • Carotenoids / therapeutic use
  • Catechin / therapeutic use
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mouth Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Mouth Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Phytotherapy / methods
  • Plant Preparations / therapeutic use


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biological Factors
  • Plant Preparations
  • Carotenoids
  • Catechin