What Do They Have In Common?
By Anna Marie Mazoch, D.D. S
What do Ulysses S. Grant, Civil War General and President of the United States; Babe Ruth, the Bambino and most famous baseball player of all time; Sigmund Freud, neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis; Sammy Davis, Jr., entertainer, singer and member of the “Rat Pack”; and Roger Ebert, film critic and co-creator of the thumbs up/thumbs down movie review, have in common?
They all succumbed to various forms of oral cancer. Grant’s occurred near the tonsillar area, the Babe’s was nasopharyngeal (the upper throat), Freud’s cancer occurred on the soft palate, Ebert had thyroid, salivary gland and jaw cancer, and Davis’s was throat and mouth.
Dr. Mazoch and her team are ready for Oral Cancer Awareness Day.
My usual column for the Women’s Journal concerns the happy occasion of presenting a transformation from unattractive teeth to a beautiful smile.
Yet, each year, one article is all about oral head and neck cancer. Why do I devote an entire article every year to discussing this morbid and disfiguring disease? Because a dentist treats more than just your teeth. A dentist is concerned with your overall health. A dentist performs an oral cancer examination of your mouth by looking for abnormalities, by feeling for growths, and sometimes by using a fluorescing light to enhance visualization.
A dentist is your best bet for an early diagnosis of oral cancer. And an early diagnosis usually means complete cure with little discomfort.
Unfortunately, most head and neck cancers are discovered at a late stage. Late stage oral cancer is difficult to cure and the treatment is painful. There will be nearly 42,000 cases of oral and pharyngeal cancer diagnosed this year. Only 57% of those diagnosed will be alive in 5 years.
Smoking and alcohol overuse remain the major cause for head and neck cancers. However, among young non-smokers, a virus – Human Papilloma Virus (HPV16) – appears to be replacing smoking and alcohol as the predominant causative factor for those under the age of 50. You may recognize HPV, a sexually transmitted virus, as the cause for 90% of cervical cancers.
Women in particular are gaining on the men in new oral cancer diagnoses. Previously, 6 men were diagnosed for every 1 woman. Now, the ratio is 2 men for each woman; not an encouraging trend for women.
After all of this gloom and doom, there is hope. Visiting your dentist for professional teeth cleaning and checkups twice yearly allows your dentist to perform a thorough examination and evaluation of your oral cavity. We have high powered lights and magnification to look down your throat, at your tonsils, roof of mouth, cheeks, lips and the back, sides and under your tongue. We can palpate (feel) for swollen glands, hardened lymph nodes, unusual growths, or asymmetries. We can be the source of an early discovery.
If you don’t have a dentist, PLEASE get one today. Dentistry is not expensive if you visit routinely and take care of yourself. It becomes expensive and time consuming when you neglect your mouth.
So, do yourself a favor and be diligent about getting an oral cancer screening at least once a year.
You are welcome to join us for our 7th annual Free Oral Cancer Screening on Saturday, April 19, 2014, from 10:00 to Noon.
Make sure you are up to date with your dental visits.
“The C word, something we always hear from someone else, certainly never ourselves. On a routine dental check up and throat screen last February, Dr. Mazoch noticed a lump in my neck and suggested I bring it to the attention of my Primary Care physician. Since I had just gotten over a bad cold, I was convinced it was just a swollen gland. Nonetheless, I had it checked out by my Primary Care physician one month later. That led to 2 ultrasounds, a radioactive iodine uptake test, a biopsy, and finally a thyroidectomy, and a cancer diagnosis. This lump, which was one inch in diameter, had been missed by the previous dentist, and two Primary Care physicians. There was no history of thyroid cancer in my family, my health is otherwise good, so this came as a complete shock! I have since done a ton of research and thyroid cancer is on a dramatic rise! If your dentist does not do an extensive throat and mouth screening for cancer, nor do they not use a thyroid protective guard on your throat during a dental x-ray, I would be changing my dentist. I am glad I did.” ~ Nancy Kanienberg, Patient
Dr. Anna Marie Mazoch received her B.S. degree in Biology, summa cum laude, from Ohio University and her D.D.S. from Northwestern University. She is a member of the American Dental Association, the Delaware State Dental Society and several local dental study clubs. She has been practicing general dentistry for 32 years, first in Cincinnati, then Montpelier, Vermont, and the past 11 years in Delaware. Her keen interest in continuing education for herself and her staff stems from a quote by G. V. Black, the first dean of Northwestern University Dental School and the father of modern dentistry: “The professional (wo)man has no right to be other than a continuous student”.
2601 Annand Dr., Suite 18, Wilmington, DE 19808
We are conveniently located near the corner of Kirkwood Hwy and Milltown Rd, near Pike Creek and Milltown shopping center.