Aim: To compare various parameters associated with oral cancer in young and old patients and systematically compile the data on prognosis or outcome of oral cancer in young and old patients that include case series, matched-pair analyses, institutional series, and database reviews. Background: Though oral cancer is considered a disease of old age, a recent clinical scenario witnesses its increasing incidence among young persons. When compared to old patients, young patients with oral cancer are exposed to the carcinogens for a very petite period of time suggesting underlying pathogenesis to be distinct from that in older individuals. Literature reports several studies about the occurrence of oral cancer in young patients; however, no unanimous opinion exists about its prognosis and treatment outcomes when compared to older patients. Keeping this in mind, we have extensively studied all the possible aspects (location, local and regional recurrence, nodal and distant metastasis, overall survival, etc.) from the English literature and systematically compiled the available data on prognosis or outcomes of oral cancer. Review results: The overall outcome of the case series shows poorer prognosis in young patients, matched-pair analyses, and institutional series suggesting no significant differences whereas the databases favored a better prognosis in young patients. The mean overall survival rate was found to be better for young patients in the database and institutional review whereas worse in the matched-pair analyses. The mean 5-year survival rate was found to be more in young individuals in matched-pair analyses, database reviews, and institutional series as compared to older oral cancer patients. Conclusion: Though data extracted from various study designs are heterogeneous, the present review gives a scoping view of the papers published on oral cancer in young vs old patients. More prospective studies are suggested with a larger sample size in the future. Clinical significance: The present review will help to better understand the nature, course, and biologic behavior of oral cancer in young patients leading to the development of specific treatment strategies to manage the patients based on their age-groups.
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