Cancer is a malady that ranks high in causing significant morbidity and mortality. Due to the complex genetic alterations and consequential biochemical and cellular changes that accompany the tumorigenic process, detection and treatment of this disease has been a formidable task. Extensive research over the last several decades has brought to light some of the key signature modifications that are specific to cancer cells or to patients with cancer and were broadly termed tumor markers or tumor biomarkers. These biomarkers have been useful in the diagnosis and prognosis of cancers, thereby aiding in efficacious therapies. Oral cancer is the sixth leading cause of cancer with 900,000 cases detected every year; most of them presented clinically in advanced stages. Thus, the tumor burden plays a deleterious role leading to treatment failure and high rates of mortality as well as morbidity. Thus, key molecular biomarkers in oral cancer have been identified and a number of inventions have emanated from the studies in this context. They range from detection of microRNA and interleukins in saliva of the patients with oral cancer, to changes in gene expression of salivary proteins. Further, some of the transcriptional changes have similarities to other cancers such as melanoma (example, MAGE transcripts). Also at the cellular level, indicators of proliferation have been touted as valuable markers in oral neoplasia. Here we highlight some of the unique molecular biomarkers related to oral cancers. With the advances in technologies as well as an intense basic research in this field more candidates are bound to emerge. This would translate into better diagnosis and more individualized therapies for management of oral cancer. The current review also specifically highlights the patent applications that could have an impact in the management of oral cancers.
Keywords: Oral Cancers, epigenetics, HPV, methylation, microRNA, squamous cell carcinoma, tumor, prognostic markers, Head and Neck Cancer, proliferation diseases