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O.P Gupta, Shaista Suhail, Devendra Kumar, Vijay Kumar, Ranjeet Patil and Shalini Gupta*


As percent of cancer populations is increasing sharply, the incidence of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) has also been expected to increase as well. Cancer prevention is more important than treatment for overcoming increased cancer death in the future. Oral cancer is the most common cancer worldwide which continues to be the most prevalent cancer resulting from the consumption of tobacco, alcohol and other carcinogenic products. A large part of cancer load in parts of India is formed from Oral cancer. Oral cancer is categorized into precancerous and cancerous stages. Precancerous stage includes Leukoplakia, Erythroplakia and Lichen Planus, while cancerous or malignant stage is Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Oral cancer development is a multistep process which arises from pre- existing malignant lesions. Oral carcinogenesis is a highly complex, multistep process which involves accumulation of genetic alterations that lead to the induction of proteins promoting cell growth (encoded by oncogenes), increased enzymatic (telomerase) activity promoting cell proliferation. Maintenance of telomeres plays an essential role during transformation of cancer to malignant stage. Mammalian telomeres, a specialized nucleoprotein structures are composed of large conctamers of the guanine-rich sequence 5_-TTAGGG-3_. The roles of telomeres in regulating both stability of genome and replicative immortality seems to contribute in essential ways in cancer initiation and progression. Telomeres are maintained by a multisubunit enzyme called telomerase, comprised of an RNA component, hTR and a protein reverse transcriptase component, hTERT.

Keywords: Oral cancer, pre-cancer, telomere, telomerase activity, biomarker.

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