HPV, KRAS mutations, alcohol consumption and tobacco smoking effects on Sophageal squamous-cell carcinoma carcinogenesis
Spandidos, Demetrios A.
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Esophageal squamous-cell carcinoma (ESCC) is an invasive neoplastic disease generally associated with poor survival rates. The incidence of ESCC is characterized by marked geographic variation, with highest rates noted in developing Southeastern African, Central and Eastern Asian countries. In the developed Western European and North American regions where there is a low disease incidence, heavy alcohol and cigarette consumption constitute major risk factors. The toxic effects of both these risk factors cause chronic irritation and inflammation of the esophageal mucosa, while at the cellular level they further confer mutagenic effects by the activation of oncogenes (e.g., RAS mutations), inhibition of tumor-suppressor genes, and profound DNA damage. Viral infections, particularly with human papillomavirus, may activate specific antiapoptotic, proliferative and malignant cellular responses that may be intensified in combination with the effects of alcohol and tobacco. In countries with a high ESCC incidence, low socioeconomic status and an inadequate diet of poorly preserved food are combined with basic nutritional deficiencies and inadequate medical treatment. These conditions are favorable to the above-mentioned risk factors implicated in ESCC development, which may be present and/or habitually used in certain populations. New perspectives in epidemiological studies of ESCC development and its risk factors allow genome-wide research involving specific environments and habits. Such research should consist of adequately large and representative samples, should use newly designed informative genetic markers, and apply genomic variation analysis of the functional transcripts involved in malignant cell cycle regulation and neoplastic transformation in the multi-step process of ESCC carcinogenesis.