Study: Scientists inching closer to better oral cancer prevention
SUMMARY: Oral cancer is a major health concern in the U.S. that is costly and highly preventable.
Posted: July 23, 2014
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 30,000 new cases of oral cancer diagnosed and 8,000 deaths due to oral cancer each year. While this is a disease that is directly related to tooth decay and gum disease (both of which are impacted by the growth of anaerobic bacteria in the mouth), scientists might have discovered a better way of predicting oral cancer, according to a new study.
The research, which was reported on in Clinical Cancer Research, shows a consistent gene expression pattern related to the spread of oral tumors in mice. When compared to oral cancer samples from humans, the investigators discovered the same gene signature, which could mean that doctors could better predict aggressive oral tumors.
"We didn't automatically assume this mouse model would be relevant to human oral cancer," Dr. Ravindra Uppaluri, an associate professor of otolaryngology and a head and neck surgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, told Medical News Today. "But it turns out to be highly reflective of the disease in people."
Data related to the study became even more in-depth, as researchers were able to work with oral cancer samples from patients who were treated at Washington University. By using a proof of concept test, they were able to find these same aggressive tumors with 93 percent accuracy, showing that the findings could have an even greater impact on oral cancer research in the future.
Oral cancer is highly preventable
It's important to note that even outside of this new research, oral cancer can already be avoided in many cases. This is crucial especially when it comes to senior oral health, as it is mostly older Americans who die from oral cancer-related issues each year, according to the CDC.
Taking care of your teeth can also help you save money. The CDC revealed that in the U.S., 500 million visits to the dentist are made each year. While many of these might be standard cleanings, others might have been prevented with standard care like brushing and flossing. There are also many less costly services that can safely prevent tooth decay, such as sealants on your back molars, which is a common area in the mouth for dental plaque and tooth decay.
To further prevent oral cancer, include these helpful tips from the Mayo Clinic:
- Quit smoking
- Drink alcohol only in moderation
- Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables
- Use lip products with sunscreen
- Keep up with regular dental visits