Background: The Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Tongue (TSCC) is the most frequent
cancer of oral cavity often characterized by poor prognosis. Conventional therapies are not very efficient
and often may cause serious side effects. In this context, introduction of natural substances as possible
adjuvant in the treatment and prevention of cancer is becoming a relevant topic. In fact, curcumin has
been used for decades in Chinese traditional medicine for its beneficial effects. Curcumin has anticancer
properties in many tumors however, its action on the tongue carcinoma is not entirely clear and
many other investigations are necessary.
Objective: Curcumin seems to be a good adjuvant in the treatment of head and neck tumors. However,
these studies are generic and there are not many specific studies on TSCC, the most frequent and most
aggressive cancer of the head-neck region. Our goal is to demonstrate its effectiveness also for TSCC.
Methods: In this study, we evaluated the effects of curcumin on TSCC cells using different concentrations
(1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 µM) and 3 different treatment times (24, 48 and 72 hours). The inhibition of
adhesion, proliferation, viability, migration and apoptosis was studied.
Results: IC50 value of curcumin is about 10 µM and there have been inhibitory effects even for treatments
at low concentrations. Curcumin reduces migration and progression of TSCC cells and it promotes
apoptosis and inhibits tumorigenesis.
Conclusions: These results suggest the possible use of curcumin as an anti-cancer agent in TSCC. However,
in vivo studies are needed to confirm these effects and overcome its low bioavailability.