Background: Metals like copper, iron and zinc have been suggested to modulate free radical generation and carcinogenesis. In lieu of these observations, estimation of these metals is vital and most studies have been with the blood.
Objectives: In the present study we estimated the levels of these metals in both serum and saliva of the head and neck (H&N) cancer patients and compared it with healthy age-matched control group. A correlation between the levels of these metals in the serum and saliva of respective H&N cancer patient was also assessed.
Materials and Methods: The subjects of this study were the clinically confirmed cases of H&N cancers visiting the Oncology Department of Medical College Hospital for treatment. Age and sex-matched healthy individuals were included as control group. The levels of iron, copper and zinc were estimated in whole saliva and serum by standard spectrophotometric methods.
Results: When compared to the controls, the levels of iron and copper were higher in serum and saliva was high in the H&N cancer patients and statically significant (P=.0002 to P=.0001). On the contrary, there was a decrease in the levels of zinc but was not significant. There was significant correlation between serum and saliva with respect to the levels of iron, copper and zinc in H&N cancer patients and was statically significant (P=.0001).
Conclusions: The findings of this study indicated the role of metals in etiopathogenesis of H&N cancer. An assessment of the levels of metals in cancer patients might have prognostic and therapeutic implications. This study observed a significant positive correlation between serum and saliva which will go a long way in establishing saliva as a diagnostic tool complimentary to blood.