Background and objectives: The incidence of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) in young (less than 40 years of age) and elderly (over 80 years of age) patients is rising. However, there is sparseness of data about etiology, clinical, pathological parameters and treatment outcome of OSCC in these not frequently affected patient cohorts. The investigators hypothesized that etiological, clinical and pathological parameters of OSCC in young and elderly patients are alike but differ significantly from those of OSCC in middle aged patients (patients between 40 and 80 years of age).
Methods: A retrospective analysis of all patients treated for OSCC at this department between 2001 and 2012 was performed. The patients’ age at the first diagnosis of OSCC determined their allocation into groups: young and elderly patients. A matched group of middle aged patients was chosen randomly as a control group. The patient history, treatment regimen and pathohistological parameters of OSCC were analyzed. All OSCCs in this study were tested for HPV infection. Parametric and non-parametric tests were used for statistical analysis ( p < 0.05).
Results: The investigators reviewed 739 patients and identified 11 (1.4%) young and 17 (2.3%) elderly patients. Elderly patients displayed significantly more systemic underlying diseases and were hospitalized significantly longer than young patients but there were no differences in etiology, location or pathohistological parameters of OSCC. OSCC in young and elderly patients differed significantly from OSCC in the control group in tumor size, location and risk factors. Only 11% of young patients and 29% of elderly patients admitted alcohol consumption or smoking whereas 89% patients from the control group had been exposed to these risk factors. HPV was absent in all tested OSCC specimens.
Conclusion: OSCC in young and elderly patients exhibits similar characteristics and differs significantly from OSCC in the mainly affected patient group.
Key words: oral squamous cell carcinoma; young and elderly patients; clinical and pathological characteristics; HPV