Periodontal Disease May Play a Role in Pancreatic Cancer

Carmel Valley San Diego Community | Dr. Tasto | Torrey Hills Dental LogoBacterial infections may play a role in triggering pancreatic cancer according to recent studies.  A growing number of studies suggest a role for infections – primarily of the stomach and GUMS – in pancreatic cancer.  The disease is a particularly deadly cancer, which the American Cancer society estimates will kill nearly 38,500 Americans in 2013.

“Pancreatic cancer is the worst form of cancer that people can have,” said Dr. Wasif Saif, director of gastrointestinal oncology program at Tufts.  “It has the highest mortality rate of  96%.”

Although pancreatic cancer is extremely fatal, researchers don’t really know its main causes, Saif said.  The known major risk factors amount for less than 40 percent of all cases.  Know risk factors for the disease include tobacco smoking, obesity, type 2 diabetes, alcoholism and chronic pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas.

“The major finding of this research is the possibility that bacterial infection may lead to pancreatic cancer,” said Saif.  According to the study, two bacterial infections in particular have been strongly liked to pancreatic cancer in the scientific literature.  The two bacteria are Helicobacter pylori, which is a bacteria linked with stomach cancer and peptic ulcer, and the second bacteria is Porphymomonas gingivalis, which is a bacteria involved in gum disease and poor oral hygiene.

Obviously as a dentist, my concern for my patients is that they don’t develop pancreatic cancer from periodontal disease or gingivitis.  We are constantly treating these two diseases EVERYDAY in my office.  Many patients adhere to their recall frequencies and home care.  In the same breath, it must be said, that many patients don’t adhere to their recall frequencies or home care  Reasons for this is primarily insurance related and therefore cost related.  Meaning patients listen to their insurance company and what they dictate for coverage as opposed to their dentist and hygienist.  One must understand that an insurance company’s role and concern is NOT with the patient’s health.  They are responsible only to their shareholders.  The only ones concerned with your oral health, other than you, is your dental office.  If your dental office recommends a specific treatment for your periodontal disease and gingivitis, it would be the best decision to adhere to their recommendations since the consequences of not treating gum disease aggressively could be pancreatic cancer.

I am not willing to take this risk, ARE YOU?

Carmel Valley San Diego Community | Dr. James Tasto

Born and raised in San Diego, Dr. James Tasto attended University of San Diego High School where he lettered in both golf and wrestling. After earning a Bachelors in Science from Loyola Marymount University, Dr. Tasto graduated from University of Southern California Dental School with an emphasis on cosmetics and sports dentistry.  Dr. James Tasto was selected by his peers to be included in the List of Top Dentists in San Diego for 2007 – 2013.  He appeared in the May issue of San Diego Magazine.  Dr. Tasto is also a member of D.O.C.S. (Doctors Offering Charitable Services), a local organization that offers medical services such as plastic surgery, vision and dental to the less fortunate patients in San Diego.  Dr. Tasto currently resides in San Diego with his lovely wife Traci and their 3 children. He enjoys golf, beach volleyball and playing with his kids.


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