Oral cancer is the largest group of cancers which fall into the head and neck category. While genetic alterations in oral cancer have long been documented, the effect of epigenetic changes is more recent. The recent explosion in science of how chromatin organization modulates the gene expression has highlighted the epigenetic mechanism of oral cancer pathogenesis. DNA methylation, which is an important epigenetic marker, is perhaps the best characterized chemical modification of mammalian DNA and provides a stable, heritable, and critical component of epigenetic regulation. This review attempts to decipher the epigenetic aspects of oral cancer by evaluating the DNA methylation status through its various stages from normal to potentially malignant to malignant states. In doing so, we emphasize DNA methylation as a novel biomarker in oral cancer research, thus opening newer avenues in oral cancer research.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Oral Surgery
- Cancer Research