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South Asian J Cancer. 2012 Oct;1(2):78-83. doi: 10.4103/2278-330X.103719.

Role of bacteria in oral carcinogenesis.

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Department of Oral Pathology and Microbiology, Government Dental College, Trivandrum, Kerala, India.
Institute of Dental Sciences - Bhubaneshwar, Odisha, India.
Oral Pathology and Microbiology, Government Dental College, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India.


Oral cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Indian men and is the leading cause of cancer deaths. It is considered as a multistep and multifactorial disease. Besides accumulation of genetic mutations, numerous other carcinogens are involved. In this category, viral and chemical carcinogens are well studied and documented. However, in the oral cavity, the role of microbiota in carcinogenesis is not known. Microbial populations on mouth mucosa differ between healthy and malignant sites, and certain oral bacterial species have been linked with malignancies, but the evidence is still weak in this respect. Nevertheless, oral microorganisms inevitably up-regulate cytokines and other inflammatory mediators that affect the complex metabolic pathways, and may thus be involved in carcinogenesis. Poor oral health associates statistically with prevalence of many types of cancer such as pancreatic and gastrointestinal cancer. This review presents possible carcinogenesis pathway involved in bacterial carcinogenesis, commonly implicated bacteria in oral carcinogenesis, and their role in cancer therapeutics as well.


Bacterial carcinogenesis; Helicobacter pylori; Streptococcus anginosus; carcinogenesis


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