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Old 08-06-2019, 01:49 PM
 
Location: Northern Appalachia
6,550 posts, read 7,401,222 times
Reputation: 8042

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I was recently diagnosed with tongue cancer and had surgery. I thought my experience might be beneficial to others.

In April I had a routine dental appointment for teeth cleaning. I'm a 64 year old male with no dental issues but I get my teeth cleaned twice a year. The dentist always does a check of my teeth and mouth after the teeth cleaning. This time he noticed a white spot on the back side of my tongue. I was not aware of it and had no signs that it was there. It was back far enough that I never saw it. He referred me to an oral surgeon.

When I saw an oral surgeon, he said it was leukoplakia and it could be an irritation from a sharp tooth. He wanted my dentist to grind the sharp area and return in 2 weeks. When I returned, the leukoplakia was still there, so they decided to do a biopsy. Two weeks later I found out the biopsy was positive for carcinoma in situ. I was immediately sent to an Otolaryngology department at a major university medical center where I had a partial glossectomy 8 days later. They removed part of my tongue. I spent two nights in the hospital after the surgery.

The major reasons for tongue cancer are tobacco use and heavy alcohol consumption, neither of which apply to me. I have never used any form of tobacco. The lesson I wanted to communicate is I would not have known about this if my dentist did not routinely do a thorough mouth exam. He did not find this at previous dental exam, which was 6 months earlier. Chances are, if my dentist had not found this, it would have progressed until I noticed some pain on my tongue and it might have spread by that point. This is a rapidly growing form of cancer.

I'm now in recovery and will start speech therapy shortly to try to get my speech back to as normal as possible.

Last edited by villageidiot1; 08-06-2019 at 01:57 PM..
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Old 08-06-2019, 03:45 PM
 
Location: on the wind
12,763 posts, read 6,277,227 times
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Thank you for sharing. Glad to hear you are recovering!

Another cautionary tale for those who refuse to get a dental exam occasionally because they don't happen to have a toothache.
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Old 08-06-2019, 05:48 PM
 
Location: Northern Appalachia
6,550 posts, read 7,401,222 times
Reputation: 8042
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parnassia View Post
Thank you for sharing. Glad to hear you are recovering!

Another cautionary tale for those who refuse to get a dental exam occasionally because they don't happen to have a toothache.

Yes, I highly recommend that you switch dentists if your dentist does not do a thorough mouth exam that includes looking at the back and sides of your tongue. I never had a dentist do this kind of exam before I went to my current dentist.
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Old 08-06-2019, 05:52 PM
 
2,968 posts, read 1,221,053 times
Reputation: 7910
So glad it was caught early.
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Old 08-06-2019, 06:05 PM
 
3,501 posts, read 1,530,932 times
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OP....Thanks for sharing your story. You may have saved some one`s life. Your tongue, is not normally, something you pay attention too.
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Old 08-06-2019, 06:08 PM
 
Location: Southern California
28,804 posts, read 11,446,625 times
Reputation: 18462
Quote:
Originally Posted by villageidiot1 View Post
Yes, I highly recommend that you switch dentists if your dentist does not do a thorough mouth exam that includes looking at the back and sides of your tongue. I never had a dentist do this kind of exam before I went to my current dentist.
umm, I saw dentists for about 60 yrs of my life and no tongue checks that I know of. Glad yours was on the ball.
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Old 08-08-2019, 03:58 PM
 
1,936 posts, read 1,917,436 times
Reputation: 2988
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaminhealth View Post
umm, I saw dentists for about 60 yrs of my life and no tongue checks that I know of. Glad yours was on the ball.
You may not have been aware of it, but they may have (and should have) been checking your tongue. My dentist narrates while performing any procedure. He'll say, "Checking your tongue now--- looks good." If he didn't state it, I'd have never known.
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Old 08-08-2019, 04:18 PM
 
Location: Northern Appalachia
6,550 posts, read 7,401,222 times
Reputation: 8042
Quote:
Originally Posted by charmed hour View Post
You may not have been aware of it, but they may have (and should have) been checking your tongue. My dentist narrates while performing any procedure. He'll say, "Checking your tongue now--- looks good." If he didn't state it, I'd have never known.

I definitely knew when my dentist was checking my tongue. He stretched it side to side and upwards. It was somewhat uncomfortable to have your tongue yanked around.
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Old 08-08-2019, 09:30 PM
 
Location: SW Florida
11,510 posts, read 8,362,611 times
Reputation: 17543
Quote:
Originally Posted by villageidiot1 View Post
I definitely knew when my dentist was checking my tongue. He stretched it side to side and upwards. It was somewhat uncomfortable to have your tongue yanked around.
The dentist I currently see does cancer checks that way after my teeth are cleaned. He also looks under the tongue, along the sides, and on the roof of my mouth. Seems pretty thorough to me.
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Old 08-08-2019, 09:32 PM
 
Location: SW Florida
11,510 posts, read 8,362,611 times
Reputation: 17543
Quote:
Originally Posted by villageidiot1 View Post
I was recently diagnosed with tongue cancer and had surgery. I thought my experience might be beneficial to others.

In April I had a routine dental appointment for teeth cleaning. I'm a 64 year old male with no dental issues but I get my teeth cleaned twice a year. The dentist always does a check of my teeth and mouth after the teeth cleaning. This time he noticed a white spot on the back side of my tongue. I was not aware of it and had no signs that it was there. It was back far enough that I never saw it. He referred me to an oral surgeon.

When I saw an oral surgeon, he said it was leukoplakia and it could be an irritation from a sharp tooth. He wanted my dentist to grind the sharp area and return in 2 weeks. When I returned, the leukoplakia was still there, so they decided to do a biopsy. Two weeks later I found out the biopsy was positive for carcinoma in situ. I was immediately sent to an Otolaryngology department at a major university medical center where I had a partial glossectomy 8 days later. They removed part of my tongue. I spent two nights in the hospital after the surgery.

The major reasons for tongue cancer are tobacco use and heavy alcohol consumption, neither of which apply to me. I have never used any form of tobacco. The lesson I wanted to communicate is I would not have known about this if my dentist did not routinely do a thorough mouth exam. He did not find this at previous dental exam, which was 6 months earlier. Chances are, if my dentist had not found this, it would have progressed until I noticed some pain on my tongue and it might have spread by that point. This is a rapidly growing form of cancer.

I'm now in recovery and will start speech therapy shortly to try to get my speech back to as normal as possible.
Wow, glad they caught it when they did, and hopefully took care of the cancer for good.
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