November 6, 2023

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Can Cancer Spread Through Saliva? – Myth Or Fact

No, cancer cannot spread through saliva. Cancer cells are too large to fit through the salivary glands and ducts. Additionally, cancer cells are not able to survive in the stomach acid.

However, there are a few rare exceptions to this rule. For example, some viruses, such as Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), can be transmitted through saliva. EBV can cause certain types of cancer, such as nasopharyngeal cancer (cancer of the back of the nose) and Burkitt lymphoma.

Additionally, some types of cancer, such as salivary gland cancer and oral cancer, can spread to the lymph nodes in the neck through the saliva. However, this is very rare.

What Is Saliva?

Saliva is a complex fluid that contains a variety of enzymes, proteins, and other substances. It is produced by three pairs of salivary glands in the mouth: the parotid glands, the submandibular glands, and the sublingual glands.

Saliva plays several important functions, including:

  • Digestion: Saliva contains enzymes that help to break down carbohydrates and fats. This makes it easier to swallow and digest food.
  • Lubrication: Saliva keeps the mouth moist and lubricated, which makes it easier to speak and swallow.
  • Protection: Saliva contains antibacterial substances that help to protect the mouth from bacteria and other harmful microorganisms.
  • Taste: Saliva helps to dissolve food particles so that they can be tasted by the taste buds on the tongue.

Cancer Medicine and Saliva

Some anti-cancer medicines can cause changes in saliva production. For example, some chemotherapy drugs can cause dry mouth. This is because chemotherapy can damage the salivary glands. Other cancer medicines can cause increased saliva production.

If you are taking cancer medicine, be sure to talk to your doctor about any changes in saliva production that you experience. Your doctor can recommend ways to manage these changes.

Can Cancer Spread Through Saliva When Kissing?

No, cancer cannot spread through saliva when kissing. Cancer cells are too large to fit through the salivary glands and ducts. Additionally, cancer cells are not able to survive in the stomach acid.

However, there are a few rare exceptions to this rule. For example, some viruses, such as Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), can be transmitted through saliva. EBV can cause certain types of cancer, such as nasopharyngeal cancer (cancer of the back of the nose) and Burkitt lymphoma.

Can Cancer Spread Through Saliva When Sharing Food or Drinks?

Cancer cannot spread through saliva when sharing food or drinks. Cancer cells are too large to fit through the salivary glands and ducts, and they also cannot survive in the stomach acid.

However, there are a few rare exceptions to this rule. For example, some viruses, such as Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), can be transmitted through saliva. EBV can cause certain types of cancer, such as nasopharyngeal cancer (cancer of the back of the nose) and Burkitt lymphoma.

Additionally, some types of cancer, such as salivary gland cancer and oral cancer, can spread to the lymph nodes in the neck through the saliva. However, this is very rare.

What Are The 3 Ways Cancer Can Spread?

Cancer can spread in three main ways:

Direct Extension

Cancer cells can grow into nearby tissues and organs. This is the most common way that cancer spreads.

Lymphatic Spread

Cancer cells can travel through the lymphatic system to other parts of the body. The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and nodes that helps to fight infection.

Hematogenous Spread

Cancer cells can travel through the bloodstream to other parts of the body. This is the least common way that cancer spreads, but it is also the most dangerous, as it can allow cancer cells to spread to distant parts of the body and form new tumors.

What Should I Do If I Am Concerned About the Risk of Spreading Cancer Through Saliva?

If you are concerned about the risk of spreading cancer through saliva, there are a few things you can do:

  • Talk to your doctor. Your doctor can assess your risk and guide how to reduce the risk of spreading cancer through saliva.
  • Be aware of the risks. While the risk of spreading cancer through saliva is generally very low, there are a few rare exceptions. For example, some types of cancer, such as salivary gland cancer and oral cancer, can spread to the lymph nodes in the neck through the saliva. Additionally, some viruses, such as Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), can be transmitted through saliva and can cause certain types of cancer.
  • Take steps to reduce the risk of transmitting infection. This includes practicing good oral hygiene, avoiding sharing food or drinks with someone who has a sore or ulcer in their mouth, and getting regular dental checkups and cleanings.
  • Be mindful of your symptoms. If you have any symptoms of cancer, such as a sore that does not heal, a lump in your neck, or difficulty swallowing, see your doctor right away.

How Can Cancer Spread from One Person to Another?

No, cancer cannot spread from one person to another in the traditional sense. Cancer is not a contagious disease, and cancer cells cannot travel through the air or be spread by casual contact. However, there are a few rare exceptions to this rule.

For example, some viruses, such as Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and human papillomavirus (HPV), can cause cancer. These viruses can be transmitted from person to person through bodily fluids, such as saliva and semen. However, it is important to note that not everyone who is infected with EBV or HPV will develop cancer.

What Types of Cancer Can Be Transmitted Through Saliva?

There are a few rare types of cancer that can be transmitted through saliva. These include:

Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)-Associated Cancers:

EBV is a virus that can cause a variety of cancers, including nasopharyngeal cancer (cancer of the back of the nose), Burkitt lymphoma, and Hodgkin lymphoma. EBV can be transmitted through saliva, but the risk of developing cancer after exposure to EBV is very low.

Kaposi Sarcoma

Kaposi sarcoma is a type of cancer that affects the skin and blood vessels. It is caused by the human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) virus. HHV-8 can be transmitted through saliva, but the risk of developing Kaposi sarcoma after exposure to HHV-8 is also very low.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)-Associated Cancers

HPV is a virus that is sexually transmitted and can cause a variety of cancers, including cervical cancer, vulvar cancer, vaginal cancer, penile cancer, anal cancer, and oropharyngeal cancer (cancer of the back of the throat). HPV can also be transmitted through saliva, but the risk of developing cancer after exposure to HPV through saliva is very low.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the answer is no, the cancer cells cannot be spread through saliva in real life. According to the reports and research the cancer cells are too large to fit in saliva glands and cannot travel from one person to another.

The risk of spreading cancer through saliva is generally very low. However, there are a few rare exceptions to this rule. If you are concerned about the risk of spreading cancer through saliva, talk to your doctor.

Information Source 1: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/infectious-agents/infections-that-can-lead-to-cancer/saliva-does-not-spread-cancer.html

Information Source 2: https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/patient-education/can-i-spread-cancer-someone-else

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