Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2022


Objectives: The purpose of this study is to investigate the risk factors that contribute to the development of oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) in the Rio Grande Valley and understand factors that may be associated with advance stage at presentation.

Methods: Initially 1,609 charts from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley outpatient clinics were evaluated for a diagnosis of SCC and 69 patients were identified for potential inclusion. 44 patients were included for final analysis. Data were analyzed using SPSS 28.0.0. Descriptive and inferential statistics were conducted.

Results: Patients without insurance coverage were more likely to present with advanced stage (T4) SCC compared to insured individuals (RR= 2.56, 95% CI= 1.75 – 3.76, P < 0.0001). Chi-squared testing determined that smoking status (never, formerly, or currently) and alcohol consumption (none, occasional, moderate, or heavy) did not demonstrate a significant difference in presenting stage of SCC (p-value = 0.07 and p-value=0.38 respectively).

Conclusions: This study provided preliminary evidence of a significant association between insurance coverage and presenting stage of SCC. Compared to insured individuals, noninsured patients had an increased relative risk of 2.56 to present with advanced stage SCC. Additionally, our data suggest that smoking and alcohol may not be the main risk factor for development of SCC in the Rio Grande Valley. Results from this study highlight the need for more accessible oral cancer screening and research in underserved populations to better acknowledge the implications insurance has on survival, quality of life, and potential role for public health efforts.

Academic Level

medical student

Mentor/PI Department


Available for download on Saturday, June 24, 2023