AACR logoAn independent risk factor for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma is claimed to be chronic periodontitis which is a form of gum disease. This may need more efforts to avert and treat periodontitis as a likely way to lessen the possibility of this form of cancer. This is alleged by a study conducted at the Department of Dentistry and Maxillofacial Prosthetics at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

Experts suggest that people must prevent periodontitis. If an individual has the disease then he should get treated and maintain good oral hygiene. This was mentioned by Mine Tezal, D.D.S., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Oral Diagnostic Sciences, School of Dental Medicine, and University at Buffalo, NYS Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences at the University of Buffalo.

Chronic periodontitis may be described by an increasing loss of the bone and soft tissue attachment that encircle the teeth. The experts evaluated the part of chronic periodontitis on head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, along with the individual function on three subsites namely oral cavity, oropharyngeal and laryngeal. They apparently used radiographic measurement of bone loss to gauge periodontitis among an approximate 463 patients; about 207 of whom were controls.

The findings showed that chronic periodontitis might signify a clinical high-risk profile for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. The power of the relationship was claimed to be the most in the oral cavity which was supposedly followed by the oropharynx and larynx. This was as per Tezal.

When they stratified the affiliation by tobacco use, it was supposedly established that the connection continued in those patients who claimed to have never used tobacco. Tezal is of the opinion that the researchers did not anticipate the periodontitis-head and neck squamous cell carcinoma connection to be weaker in existing smokers as opposed to earlier and never smokers. Nonetheless, this communication, even though statistically important, was apparently quite weak.

Tezal mentioned, “Confirmatory studies with more comprehensive assessment of smoking, such as duration, quantity and patterns of use, as well as smokeless tobacco history are needed. Our study also suggests that chronic periodontitis may be associated with poorly differentiated tumor status in the oral cavity. Continuous stimulation of cellular proliferation by chronic inflammation may be responsible for this histological type. However, grading is subjective and we only observed this association in the oral cavity. Therefore, this association may be due to chance and needs further exploration.”

Andrew Olshan, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, and professor in the Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill stated that these results may provide additional support to the possible significance of poor oral health in this form of cancer.

Olshan commented that the study of poor oral health including the possible carcinogenic role of microorganisms is part of a rapidly growing interest in how a community of microbes that live in the various environments of the human body can affect health. Although the study is comparatively small, the researchers were able to also see an association between bone loss and the risk of head and neck cancer.

This study was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. It is a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.