Connection made between Periodontitis and Head and Neck Cancer

A recent study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention has shown that  chronic periodontitis, an inflammatory disease in the soft tissue around the teeth raises the risk of squamous cell carcinoma in the head and neck.

Periodontitis develops in the soft tissue surrounding the teeth and procedes to detoriate the alveolar bone around the teeth. If left untreated, the teeth themselves are damaged and begin to fall out. Researchers used radiography to measure the bone loss around the teeth, allowing them to determine Periodontitis in patients. 463 patients were involved altogether, including 207 controls. In investigating the association between Chronic periodontitis and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, finds were divided into three subsites: the oral cavity, the oropharynx and the larynx.

Findings suggested that chronic periodontitits may even present a high-risk for squamous cell carcinoma. The association between the two was found to be greatest in the oral cavity. Doctor Mine Tezal, of the University of Buffalo and of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute where the research was conducted, advises “Prevent periodontitis; if you have it already, get treatment and maintain good oral hygiene”.

Similarly, Andrew Olshan believes that the results highlight the significance of poor dental hygene in relation to these forms of cancer and how it impacts the interest in microbes and their effect on health.

When the results were analysed considering smoking as a factor, it was found that very little difference could be seen as both smoker and non-smoker alike contained the association between chronic periodontitis and squamous cell carcinoma. Tezal commented that a “more comprehensive study of smoking” is needed to generate more insightful information on this particular aspect.

Tezal went on to add that grading was subjective and the association was only monitored in the oral cavity and that further research would be required.

Sunday 13th September 2009

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