Prognostic value of non-smoking, non-alcohol drinking status in oral cavity cancer

Clin Oral Investig. 2021 Dec;25(12):6909-6918. doi: 10.1007/s00784-021-03981-x. Epub 2021 May 15.


Objectives: To compare the treatment response and prognosis of oral cavity cancer between non-smoking and non-alcohol-drinking (NSND) patients and smoking and alcohol-drinking (SD) patients.

Methods: A total of 313 consecutively treated patients from 2000 to 2019 were included. Demographic, clinicopathologic, treatment, and prognosis information were obtained. Relapse-free survival (RFS), disease-specific survival (DSS), and overall survival (OS) were compared between NSND and SD groups using Kaplan-Meier plots, log-rank test, and multivariate Cox regression analysis.

Results: Sample prevalence of NSND patients was 54.6%. These patients were predominantly females in their eighth decade with lower prevalence of floor of the mouth cancers compared to SD patients (1.8% vs 14.8%). No difference in the RFS and DSS between both groups was found following multivariable analysis; however, NSND patients had better OS (HR (95% CI) - 0.47 (0.29-0.75); p = 0.002). Extracapsular extension was associated with significantly poorer OS, DSS, and RFS in this oral cavity cancer cohort.

Conclusion: Treatment response and disease-specific prognosis are comparable between NSND and SD patients with oral cavity cancer. However, NSND patients have better OS.

Clinical relevance: This study shows that oral cavity cancer in NSND is not less or more aggressive compared to SD patients. Although better survival is expected for NSND than SD patients, this is likely due to the reduced incidence of other chronic diseases in the NSND group.

Keywords: NSND; Non-drinkers; Non-smokers; Oral cavity cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell* / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mouth Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Mouth Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Mouth Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies