Betel quid–associated cancer: Prevention strategies and targeted treatment

Albert Min Shan Ko, Chien Hung Lee, Ying Chin Ko*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Betel quid (BQ) and areca nut use are at risk of cancer. This review includes the latest evidence of carcinogenesis caused by BQ exposure, suggests possible prevention strategies. We conducted a systematic literature search in the PubMed and Web of Science databases to identify relevant articles published in the past 10 years according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses criteria. Arecoline N-oxide, a metabolite of areca nut, is likely an initiator in carcinogenesis and is detoxified by N-acetylcysteine. Oral potentially malignant disorder and reactive oxygen species involved in carcinogenesis pathways may be treatable using antioxidants. Screening programs conducted by trained physicians are useful for identifying patients with early stages of oral cancer in high-risk groups. Anti-inflammatory medications may be used as chemopreventive agents in the disease-free stage after surgery. The association between survival and tumor somatic mutations in patients who chew BQ should be addressed in cancer studies. Current evidence on the natural course from BQ exposure to cancer occurrence and development provides information for developing primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention strategies against BQ-associated cancer at clinical or translational levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-69
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Letters
StatePublished - 01 05 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • Arecoline N-Oxide
  • Carcinogenesis
  • Chemoprevention
  • Detoxification
  • Reactive oxygen species


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