Did you know that deaths related to pancreatic cancer will surpass breast cancer deaths this year? According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, approximately 41,000 people will die from pancreatic cancer in the United States. This makes pancreatic cancer one of the most deadly types of cancer, with a five-year survival rate of only 8%.
Of course, the causes of cancer can be attributed to several risk factors. One risk factor that many of our patients are surprised to find out is oral health. The health of your smile can be tied to your overall health in a number of ways. In observance of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, Dr. Alwazzan and his talented staff at Weston Dental Specialists would like to focus on the connection between dental health and the development of pancreatic cancer.
Although pancreatic cancer is considered a major type of cancer, most of us don’t know much about the symptoms to look out for. Pancreatic cancer is the uncontrollable cancer cell growth that starts in the pancreas.
The pancreas is a vital organ located behind the stomach and is absolutely essential for proper digestion. This organ is comprised of two main types of cells — exocrine cells and endocrine cells. Exocrine cells are important because they form glands and ducts responsible for making pancreatic enzymes. Enzymes are released into the intestines to help with food digestions. Endocrine cells make clusters known as islets. Islets are important because they create hormones like insulin and glucagon to help control blood sugar levels.
With that being said, different pancreatic cells will form different types of tumors. There are distinct symptoms and risk factors to consider when it comes to exocrine and endocrine pancreatic cancer. In most instances, a majority of people will develop exocrine pancreatic cancer, which is associated with the following risk factors:
One of the key reasons pancreatic cancer has a low survival rate is because it is very difficult to detect early. Tumors in the pancreas are deep inside the body and cannot be seen or felt during routine doctor visits. Most patients won’t notice any symptoms of pancreatic cancer until cancer has spread to other areas of the body.
Some of the warning signs of pancreatic cancer include:
Treating pancreatic cancer will depend on the stage and type of cancer. For most patients, pancreatic cancer will be treated in the following ways:
Taking care of your oral health won’t just benefit the appearance of your smile; The connection between overall wellness and dental health continues to become clearer. According to a study in the journal Gut, researchers have found a significant connection between pancreatic cancer and oral bacteria.
Researchers studied 800 European adults and found that “high antibody levels for one of the more infectious periodontal bacterium strains (Porphyromonas gingivalis) were associated with a two-fold risk for pancreatic cancer.”
Antibodies are generated to respond to foreign objects in the body, including bacteria. Researchers believe that this immune response along with the role of bacterium strains contribute to the development of pancreatic cancer.
Another study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that men with a history of periodontal disease have a higher risk of pancreatic cancer. During the study, researchers looked at more than 51,000 male subjects over the course of 16 years. The study adjusted their finding to consider age, smoking, diabetes, obesity, and diet. The study found that men with a history of gum disease had a 64% increased risk of pancreatic cancer than their counterparts without a history of periodontal disease.
The American Dental Association has warned that further study is needed before researchers can claim that gum disease and tooth loss increase pancreatic cancer risk. It’s also important to note that the two diseases have similar risk factors. Factors such as poor diet and tobacco use can significantly contribute to both periodontal disease and pancreatic cancer.
The health of your smile can affect your overall wellness in a number of ways. Even severe health concerns including pancreatic cancer can be linked to issues with your oral health.
If you have dental health concerns, don’t wait until the problem becomes critical. Here at Weston Dental Specialists, we offer a variety of dental services to best address your specific concerns. Services ranging from cosmetic dentistry to implant dentistry are available for patients in need of top-quality dental treatment.
To learn more about our services and how we can help your smile, contact our office today to schedule your consultation with Dr. Alwazzan.
56 Colpitts Rd.
Monday: 7AM – 5PM
Tuesday: 7AM – 5PM
Wednesday: 7AM – 5PM
Thursday: 7AM – 5PM
Friday: 7AM – 5PM