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Genes Possible Link To Ovarian Cancer, Missing Teeth
February 26, 2008

by Nancy Volkers
InteliHealth News Service

INTELIHEALTH - Women with ovarian cancer also may be more likely to have missing or abnormally small teeth, a study says.

Researchers from the University of Kentucky, Lexington, did the study. They compared 50 women with ovarian cancer to 100 women without the disease. They found that 20 in 100 ovarian cancer patients had a condition called hypodontia. Only 3 out of 100 healthy women had this condition.

In people with hypodontia, one or more adult teeth never form under the gums. The teeth also may be unusually small and peg-shaped.

Only one or two teeth were affected in each woman with hypodontia. Most commonly, the upper lateral incisors were missing or too small. These are the teeth on either side of the two front teeth.

The second premolars also tended to be missing or too small. These teeth replace the two-year molars when they fall out.

Overall, about 20 in 100 ovarian cancer patients had a family history of hypodontia. Only about 2 in 100 healthy women had this family history.

Hypodontia occurs in 3% to 12% of the population. It's more common in women.

The researchers say that alterations in certain genes could affect both tooth development and ovarian cancer risk. They say that other studies are needed to explore the possible connection between the two conditions.

Ovarian cancer is difficult to diagnose in its earliest and most curable stages. Researchers are looking for ways to identify women at high risk for ovarian cancer. This could help catch cancer earlier.

A 2004 study suggested that a mutation in a gene called AXIN2 could cause both hypodontia and colon cancer.

The ovarian cancer study appears in the February issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

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