Soft palatal melanosis, a simple predictor for neoplasia in the upper aerodigestive tract in Japanese alcoholic men

Kenro Hirata, Akira Yokoyama, Rieko Nakamura, Tai Omori, Hirofumi Kawakubo, Takeshi Mizukami, Katsuya Maruyama, Takanori Kanai, Tetsuji Yokoyama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Soft palatal melanosis can be detected by visual inspection during routine physical examination or even personally in a mirror. The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between squamous cell neoplasia in the upper aerodigestive tract (UAT) and soft palatal melanosis. We reviewed digitized records of high-quality endoscopic images of the soft palate of 1786 Japanese alcoholic men who underwent endoscopic screening. Soft palatal melanosis was observed in 381 (21.3%) of the subjects (distinct, 6.3%). Older age, an inactive heterozygous aldehyde dehydrogenase-2 genotype, smoking, and a high mean corpuscular volume were positively associated with the presence of soft palatal melanosis. The age-adjusted odds ratio (95% confidence interval) for UAT neoplasia was 1.92 (1.40–2.64) in the group with melanosis and 2.51 (1.55–4.06) in the group with distinct melanosis, compared with the melanosis-free group. A multivariate analysis showed that the presence of soft palatal melanosis was independently associated with a high risk of UAT neoplasia. We calculated the individual number of risk factors out of four easily identifiable and significant factors: age ≥55 years, current/former alcohol flushing, mean corpuscular volume ≥106 fL, and distinct soft palatal melanosis. Compared with the risk-factor-free condition, the odds ratio (95% confidence interval) values of UAT neoplasia for one, two, three, and four risk factors were 1.49 (0.97–2.30), 3.14 (2.02–4.88), 4.80 (2.71–8.51), and 7.80 (2.17–28.1), respectively. The presence of soft palatal melanosis provides a simple new strategy for identifying heavy drinkers with a high risk for UAT neoplasia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1058-1064
Number of pages7
JournalCancer science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2017 May


  • Neoplasia
  • predictive factor
  • soft palatal melanosis
  • squamous cell carcinoma
  • upper aerodigestive tract

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Soft palatal melanosis, a simple predictor for neoplasia in the upper aerodigestive tract in Japanese alcoholic men'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this