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Missing Teeth and Cancer Risk

Recently, CLIC partners, Drs. Jeremy Schraw and Philip Lupo, studied the relationship between missing teeth from birth (congenital tooth agenesis) and risk of cancer diagnosis before 40 years old (early-onset cancer) in Denmark.

The investigators hypothesized that abnormal tooth formation could be caused by genetic changes that might also increase the risk for cancer during childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. They wanted to determine whether people with tooth agenesis were more likely to be diagnosed with cancer during this period.

Denmark has very good public health registries that allow researchers to perform quality population-based cohort studies on rare diseases. Using data from the Danish Medical Birth Register, the Danish Civil Registration Register, Danish National Patient Registry, the Danish Central Registry of Odontology, the Danish Cancer Registry, and the Danish Cytogenetic Central Register, the team of researchers found 70,288 (2.8%) people born between 1977-2018 had a diagnosis of tooth agenesis and 26,308 (1.1%) had a diagnosis of early-onset cancer. 778 individuals had co-occurrence of tooth agenesis and cancer. 

Statistical analysis showed that tooth agenesis was associated with many different types of cancer – acute myeloid leukemia, neuroblastoma, nephroblastoma, hepatoblastoma, and rhabdomyosarcoma – in children under 10. In adolescents and young adults (age 10-20 years), tooth agenesis was associated with higher risk of osteosarcoma. Among adults younger than 40, those with tooth agenesis had higher risk of carcinomas of the appendix, colon, rectum, and urinary bladder. The research team discussed how their findings support a genetic relationship between tooth agenesis and cancer, and obtaining genetic testing of individuals with tooth agenesis may improve cancer surveillance. Further genetic testing of people with tooth agenesis may also help develop future targeted cancer treatments.

This study is a good example of the benefits of comprehensive registries in a health system. We are proud that CLIC investigators are able to harness the power of registry-based studies to examine the factors associated with childhood cancers. Read the full article at the citation below. 

Article Title: Congenital Tooth Agenesis and Risk of Early-Onset Cancer 

Authors: Eiset SE, Schraw J, Sørensen GV, Gregersen PA, Rasmussen SA, Ramlau-Hansen CH, Lupo PJ, Hasle H.

Published In: JAMA Netw Open. 2024 Mar 4;7(3):e240365. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2024.0365. PMID: 38488796; PMCID: PMC10943407.