Higher levels of total pepsin and bile acids in the saliva as a possible risk factor for early laryngeal cancer

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Background. Gastroesophageal reflux is suspected to be an etiological factor in laryngeal and pharyngeal cancer. The aim of this study was to establish, using a non-invasive method, whether laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) appears more often in patients with early laryngeal cancer than in a control group.

Patients and methods. We compared the pH, the level of bile acids, the total pepsin and the pepsin enzymatic activity in saliva in a group of 30 patients with T1 laryngeal carcinoma and a group of 34 healthy volunteers.

Results. The groups differed significantly in terms of levels of total pepsin and bile acids in the saliva sample. Higher levels of total pepsin and bile acids were detected in the group of cancer patients. No significant impact of other known factors influencing laryngeal mucosa (e.g. smoking, alcohol consumption, and the presence of irritating substances in the workplace) on the results of saliva analysis was found.

Conclusions. A higher level of typical components of LPR in the saliva of patients with early laryngeal cancer than in the controls suggests the possibility that LPR, especially biliary reflux, has a role in the development of laryngeal carcinoma.

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