Relationship between Serum Albumin and Oral Epithelial Cancers in Patients Seen at a Nigerian Tertiary Hospital
Oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer worldwide, and displays great geographic variation in its incidence worldwide. While tobacco and alcohol are the major aetiological factors, other important aetiological factors include diet, infections, and exposure to ultraviolet radiation. This study attempts to determine whether there is any association between serum albumin levels and the risk of oral epithelial cancer. Thirty-three oral cancer patients seen over an eighteen months period and thirty control patients were recruited from the Dental Clinic of the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria. Blood samples from these patients were analyzed for albumin using a spectrophotometer. The mean serum albumin level was significantly lower in the oral cancer patients than in the control group (p<.001). The risk of oral cancer was 32 times more in patients with low serum albumin levels (<3.5g/dl) compared to 1.09 and 4.05 for alcohol and tobacco respectively. On logistic regression analysis, low serum albumin independently predicted the occurrence of oral cancer. Further studies are required to substantiate if the low serum albumin is a cause or an effect of oral cancer.
Keyword: Oral cancer, Hypoalbuminemia, Oral pathology