Squamous cell carcinoma of the oral tongue in young non-smokers is genomically similar to tumors in older smokers

Clin Cancer Res. 2014 Jul 15;20(14):3842-8. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-14-0565. Epub 2014 May 29.


Purpose: Epidemiologic studies have identified an increasing incidence of squamous cell carcinoma of the oral tongue (SCCOT) in younger patients.

Experimental design: DNA isolated from tongue tumors of young (<45 years, non-smokers) and old (>45 years) patients at was subjected to whole-exome sequencing and copy-number analysis. These data were compared with data from similar patients in the TCGA (The Cancer Genome Atlas) project.

Results: In this study, we found that gene-specific mutation and copy-number alteration frequencies were similar between young and old patients with SCCOT in two independent cohorts. Likewise, the types of base changes observed in the young cohort were similar to those in the old cohort even though they differed in smoking history. TCGA data also demonstrate that the genomic effects of smoking are tumor site-specific, and we find that smoking has only a minor impact on the types of mutations observed in SCCOT.

Conclusions: Overall, tumors from young patients with SCCOT appear genomically similar to those of older patients with SCCOT, and the cause for the increasing incidence of young SCCOT remains unknown. These data indicate that the functional impact of smoking on carcinogenesis in SCCOT is still poorly understood.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / genetics
  • DNA Copy Number Variations
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation*
  • Prognosis
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Tongue Neoplasms / genetics*