Background: The use of tobacco is known to increase the incidence of developing oral cancer by 6 times, while the additive effect of drinking alcohol further increases the risk leading to higher rate of morbidity and mortality. In this short communication, we prospectively assessed the effect of tobacco smoking and alcohol drinking in oral cancer patients on the overall mortality from the disease, as well as the effect of smoking and drinking reduction/cessation at time of diagnosis on mortality in the same group.
Materials and methods: A cohort, involved 67 male patients who were diagnosed with oral squamous cell carcinoma, was included in this study. The smoking and drinking habits of this group were recorded, in addition to reduction/cessation after diagnosis with the disease. Comparisons were made to disease mortality at 3 and 5 years.
Results: Follow-up resulted in a 3-year survival of 46.8% and a 5-year survival of 40.4%. Reduction of tobacco smoking and smoking cessation led to a significant reduction in mortality at 3 (P < 0.001) and 5 (P < 0.001) years. Reduction in drinking alcohol and drinking cessation led to a significant reduction in mortality at 3 (P < 0.001) and 5 (P < 0.001) years.
Conclusion: Chronic smoking and drinking does have an adverse effect on patients with oral cancer leading to increased mortality from cancer-related causes. Reduction/cessation of these habits tends to significantly reduce mortality in this group of patients. Smoking and drinking cessation counseling should be provided to all newly diagnosed oral cancer patients.