Metastatic tumors to the gingiva and the presence of teeth as a contributing factor: A literature analysis

Irit Allon*, Aya Pessing, Ilana Kaplan, Dror M. Allon, Abraham Hirshberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Gingiva that is prone to inflammation may serve as a pre-metastatic niche for the attraction of circulating malignant cells. The aim of this study is to analyze cases of metastatic lesions to the gingiva compared with cases metastasizing to other oral mucosal sites. The pathogenesis of gingival metastases is discussed, with emphasis on the role of inflammation. Methods: The English-language literature between 1916 and 2011 was searched for cases of metastatic lesions to the oral mucosa; only cases metastasizing in the oral mucosa, gingiva, and periodontium were included. Results: Two hundred seven cases were included. The gingiva was the most common site (60.4%), followed by tongue and tonsil. The most common primary sites were lung (24.2%), kidney (13.5%), skin (10.6%), and breast (8.7%). In 27%, the oral lesion was the first sign of a malignant disease. In most cases, the lesion appeared as an exophytic mass (96%) diagnosed clinically as a reactive gingival lesion. The presence of teeth was significantly associated with the development of gingival metastases: in 108 of 125 gingival metastases, the lesion was found adjacent to teeth (P<0.001; odds ratio = 8.2). The average life expectancy after diagnosis of the metastasis was 3.7 months. Conclusions: The gingiva is the most common site for metastases to oral soft tissues, with strong association with the presence of teeth. This finding may be related to the role of inflammation in the attraction of metastatic cells to chronically inflamed gingiva.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-139
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Periodontology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014


  • Gingiva
  • Inflammation
  • Mouth mucosa
  • Mouth neoplasms
  • Neoplasm metastasis


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