Possible Bacteria Link to Oral Cancer Discovered

Posted on July 7, 2005

Reuters reports that that scientists think they have discovered that bacteria may play a role in the development of oral squamous cell carcinoma. Oral squamous cell carcinoma is a dangerous cancer that the American Cancer Society believes will kill over 7,000 Americans in 2005.

Three different types of mouth bacteria are associated with the most common form of oral cancer, researchers said Thursday in a discovery that may lead to a simple test for the often-fatal tumor.

The study, published in the Journal of Translational Medicine, also suggests the bacteria may play a role in causing the cancer, called oral squamous cell carcinoma, the researchers said.

"Finding bacteria associated with (oral squamous cell carcinoma) encourages us to hope that we have discovered an early diagnostic marker for the disease," said Donna Mager of the Forsyth Institute in Boston, who led the study.

The scientists still have to determine if the bacteria is actually causing the cancer or if the bacteria just grows more easily and quickly in the mouth once cancer is present. Bacteria and virus have been discovered to cause cancers. The Reuters article noted that Helicobacter pylori is a bacteria that can cause stomach cancers and that the human papilloma virus causes cervical cancer.