To assess the association between the history of chronic periodontitis and the risk of tongue cancer.
Case-control study using preexisting data from patients admitted between June 15, 1999, and November 17, 2005.
Department of Dentistry and Maxillofacial Prosthetics at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI), Buffalo, NY.
The cases comprised 51 non-Hispanic white men newly diagnosed as having primary squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue, and the controls, 54 non-Hispanic white men evaluated during the same period but with negative results for malignancy. Children (aged <21 years), edentulous or immunocompromised patients, and those with history of any cancer were excluded. History of periodontitis was assessed by alveolar bone loss measured from panoramic radiographs by 1 examiner blind to cancer status.
Main Outcome Measure
Incidence of tongue cancer obtained from the RPCI Tumor Registry.
After adjusting for the effects of age at diagnosis, smoking status, and number of teeth, each millimeter of alveolar bone loss was associated with a 5.23-fold increase in the risk of tongue cancer (odds ratio, 5.23; 95% confidence interval, 2.64-10.35).
This study suggests an association between chronic periodontitis and the risk of tongue cancer in men, independent of smoking status, age, race, ethnicity, and number of teeth. This association needs to be confirmed by larger studies using quantitative assessment of lifetime tobacco exposure. If this association is confirmed, it has a potential impact on understanding the etiology of oral cancer as well as on its prevention and control.