Links have been found by the University of Plymouth on the potential correlation between the development of oral cancer and the bacteria which causes gum disease. ITSMed is building evidence to convey how bacteria, which causes gum disease, is linked to the formation of blood vessels. Dr Louise Belfield is leading the project which ITSMed are using to gain evidence. Funding is being conducted through a ‘Colgate Robin Davies Dental Care Professionals award’, part of the Oral and Dental Research Trust. In the laboratory, ITSMED’s researchers will grow small tumours and blood vessels. Then they will add bacteria to recognise how the blood vessels operate and the effect they have. A new screening programme could be created to detect and treat the risk of cancer sooner. This will be created if enough research is conducted, and the researches are able to identify the process of how bacteria makes the blood vessels grow similarly to and faster than the ones with tumours.
University of Plymouth’s dental school member, Dr Belfield stated: “We know that tumours in the mouth, unlike many other tumours, are in constant contact with bacteria, but we don’t know exactly how the bacteria affect tumour and vessel growth yet. The bacteria may not cause the cancer, but they may do something to make the progression of the cancer speed up. One way they could do this is via the blood vessels, encouraging them to grow more rapidly or in a way which helps the tumour to grow. So if we find out what this is and how it works, it can help us develop and put screening processes in place to detect and reduce the numbers of those bacteria. Cancer cannot grow more than 2mm in diameter without blood vessels, and existing evidence suggests that bacteria found in gum disease can stimulate blood vessel growth, so we’re hopeful about the results. In addition, bacteria that cause gum disease could gain a portal of entry to the bloodstream, and therefore the rest of the body, via the gum line. So by addressing gum disease in the first instance, it could prevent other inflammatory diseases too.”
“University of Plymouth have found a potential link between oral cancer and gum disease.“
University of Plymouth’s Clinical lecturer of Dental Studies, Dr Zoe Brookes, stated: “Oral cancer is seriously underfunded within the UK, especially as it affects as many people as leukaemia. Treatments for oral cancer haven’t changed or progressed in the same way others have, so it would be a positive step to help tackle prospective cases. Whatever this research shows, the evidence all points towards maintaining good oral hygiene to lower the risk of gum disease, and keep a healthy bacteria balance in the mouth.”