A number of reports on oral cancer occurrence in Malaysia had been based on surveys of histopathological data from oral and maxillofacial biopsies which had provided information on the relative frequencies of oral cancer compared with other oral pathologies (Ng & Siar, 1997). These and other studies have identified the relatively higher occurrence of oral precancerous lesions and oral cancer in the Indian ethnic group (Hashim, 1991). Furthermore, these studies have documented the practice of oral habits i.e. smoking, betel quid chewing and alcohol to be the main risk habits to oral cancer in the Malaysian population.
A Malaysian Oral Cancer Database and Tissue Bank (MOCDTB) system was set up to facilitate research in all aspects of oral cancer and precancer including aetiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis, prognosis, quality of life and basis of genetics to ensure sharing of available resources. This study aims to identify the risk factors, prognostic markers and gene expression of oral cancer and precancer and its impact on patient’s quality of life. In view of the associated risk habits as well as the preponderance of oral precancers and cancers found among the identified ethnic groups, it is possible to intervene and advise those with risk habits to modify, or at best to stop these habits. This primary prevention and early detection approach would offer a cost-effective option towards a reduction in the overall morbidity and mortality due to oral cancers in Malaysia.
A standardization workshop for all personnel involved in this study was held in February 2004. This workshop aims to standardize the data and sample (tissue and blood) collection from all the different identified centres.
In general, the overall methodology of this study circles around the identification of high-risk group patients, with oral cancer and/or potentially malignant lesions, who may or may not undergo treatment. Arising from these patients, a patient sample will be selected as the control group and the rest will be evaluated as oral cancer patients for study of quality of life (QOL) and risk factors. From these patients, tissues/serum will be collected and stored for the study on molecular markers and neck node metastases.
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An Oral Cancer Operational office at the Faculty of Dentistry, University of Malaya was set up in February 2003. Since the initiation of the MOCRI team with its Operational Centre at the University of Malaya, Faculty of Dentistry and the 8 Hospital based centres throughout Malaysia, fresh frozen tissues and / or blood serum and / or extracted DNA from 115 overt cancers, 9 leukoplakia and 13 lichen planus have been collected until October 2004.
Prior to January 2004, data on the collected tissues were incomplete due to the concurrent development of the detailed questionnaire for collecting data. Thus, this paper only presents preliminary data on tissues collected from January until October 2004 where complete socio-demographic and clinical data at initial diagnosis were analysed for 41 patients.
The MOCDTB system allows for systematic data and specimen collection. Such system will enable significant number of cases to be collected for more meaningful studies in the future. The structured group discussion technique has enabled the identification of problems and its solution.