Did you know that there are many connections between cancer and the mouth?
This includes not only oral and pharyngeal cancers, but also breast, pancreatic, prostate, lung, colorectal cancers and more.
How can they be connected? There are many possibilities, but here are a few common examples:
A) The Oral Microbiome (aka "what is living in your mouth")
Your mouth is not just made up of teeth and gums. In fact, there is a whole microscopic habitat that makes up your mouth. Microorganisms such as bacteria play a large role in not only the health of your mouth, but the health of the rest of your body as well! The oral microbiome is linked to diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, CANCER, and MANY MORE!
Did you know?:
"Cumulative studies have demonstrated the relation between oral bacteria and the initiation or progression of systemic cancers."
An oral bacterial pathogen was greatly increased in breast tissue from women with malignant disease.
- Source: The microbiome of aseptically collected human breast tissue in benign malignant disease - Heiken T. Chen, Hoskin T et al 2016
Fusobacterium nucleatum, an oral bacteria associated with periodontal disease, is also closely connected with colorectal and breast cancers. Some research shows this bacteria can promote tumor growth, affect infiltration of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, and inhibit NK cells, the cells that are supposed to kill cancer cells. It has also been show to induce resistance to chemotherapy in colon cancer.
- Source: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-16967-2?elqTrackId=7bef3501141e408fa4b8419364ac1b22
B) Conventional Cancer Treatments
Some cancer treatments can have negative side effects in your mouth such as mouth sores, dry mouth, loss of taste and more.
Oral health can be an important factor in cancer outcomes.
Conventional therapies such as chemotherapy or bone marrow transplants can put you at a higher risk of getting infections. If you have an infection in your mouth, it can become serious- even life-threatening in some situations. Sometimes your oncologist may even need to delay your treatments to get the infection under control. By getting a thorough dental exam before starting your treatment, your dentist can identify areas in your mouth that may put you at risk.