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May 23, 2007

Chronic Gum Disease Linked To Risk Of Tongue Cancer

Topics: Medicine

tounge.jpgCancer of the Tongue, a malignant tumor that begins as a small lump, a firm white patch, or an ulcer, is one of the more common and serious types of mouth cancer. If untreated, the tumor may spread throughout the tongue and to the gum. As a tumor grows, it becomes more life threatening by spreading (metastasizing) to lymph nodes in the neck and to the rest of the body. It is one of the more common and serious types of mouth cancer. Although the exact cause is unknown, it most often occurs among pipe, cigar, and cigarette smokers and people who use smokeless tobacco. It also occurs in people who consume large amounts of alcohol. It is rare in people under age 40, particularly women, and is most common in men over age 60.

Now researchers at the University at Buffalo and Roswell Park Cancer Institute have shown for the first time that an association exists between long-standing periodontitis, or gum disease, and risk of tongue cancer. Results of the study appear in the May issue of Archives of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery:

The study found that the risk of tongue cancer due to chronic gum disease increased five-fold with every millimeter of alveolar bone loss -- the bone in the jaws that hold teeth in place. The association existed even in the absence of a history of smoking.

... "We expected to see an association, given the results of earlier studies linking chronic infections and inflammation to cancer risk in other organs," said Tezal, "but we didn't expect to see such a clear association with a relatively small sample size.

... "If this association is confirmed in larger studies with a broader population and in other oral cancer sites, it will have a significant impact on our understanding of the causes and origin of oral cancer, as well as its prevention and control."

... The study compared panoramic (full mouth) dental X-rays of 51 white males newly diagnosed with tongue cancer with records of 54 white males without cancer. ... Persons less than 21 years of age, those with no teeth, and those with a history of any type of cancer, cancer therapy, oral pre-cancerous lesions, immunodeficiency or autoimmune disorders were excluded from the study.

... After eliminating in the analysis the potential effects of age, smoking status, and number of existing teeth, persons with chronic gum disease were 5.2 times more likely to have tongue cancer with every millimeter of bone loss than those without gum disease, Tezal and colleagues found. Other conditions involving the teeth -- decay, filings, crowns and root canals -- had no significant effect on the incidence of tongue cancer, ...

... "The link between chronic inflammation and cancer has been suspected for many years," she noted. "Even without proof of an inflammation-cancer link, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and other cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibitors have been suggested as chemo-preventive agents against cancer. "Chronic inflammation has been associated with cell proliferation, cell survival, cell migration and angiogenesis, all of which promote tumor development.

Read more here ...

Cross posted from New Hope Blog

Posted by Richard at May 23, 2007 2:27 PM



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