Q: I saw the actor Michael Douglas talking about his throat cancer and oral sex. My husband and I have a very fulfilling physical relationship, but now I am worried.
A: In your wildest dreams would you ever have associated Michael Douglas with anything other than – a father whose movie career spanned decades? A successful and diverse acting and directing career, including his recent performance in Liberace on HBO?A gorgeous wife, actress Catherine Zeta Jones? Who would have thought that his battle with throat cancer would be attributed to oral sex?
To answer your question and put your mind at ease: If you have a monogamous relationship, your husband will stay healthy. Multiple partners produce the problem.
The HPV 16 (Human Papillomavirus) is transmitted through sexual contact – genital, which is linked to cervical cancer, or oral. Detection in the oral cavity is difficult, as it is deep down in the throat below the base of the tongue. Only 1 percent of HPV 16 virus will develop into a cancer.
Most infections are fought off by the immune system and do not lead to health problems. It would be helpful if a pap smear was possible. However, utilizing a blood test, which is still in the research stage, experts are able to detect blood markers indicating early signs of the disease. Though the test is years away from being available in doctors’ offices, scientists are encouraged.
Most oral cancer is caused by smoking, chewing tobacco or drinking alcohol. When a patient comes in for an oral exam, we do a comprehensive evaluation, which includes checking the lips, gums, cheeks, tongue, floor of the mouth, tissues and throat (behind the uvula). It is very difficult for the patient to see the entire oral cavity, but a clinician is trained to spot color variations, pimples, cysts and any unusual tissue formations or abnormalities.
If you experience throat pain or discomfort, voice changes or neck swelling for more than two weeks, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Because its 99 percent certain that your husband will be fine, don’t change your lovemaking routine.
Here’s another common question:
Q: I broke a tooth the other day after chewing some candy. My dentist thought the tooth should be extracted, as he did not think it was salvageable. Is this true?
A: We see and hear of these situations all of the time. Popcorn is another food that causes broken teeth. We prefer saving teeth, if at all possible. If the break is not too far into the bone, then crown lengthening procedures can be performed. This technique removes soft tissue and supporting bone to expose more tooth structure to enable your dentist to place a crown over the remaining healthy tooth.
If it is a large break and the tooth and gum are healthy, you may need a root canal prior to placing the new crown. This is a good option for the patient.
Dr. Kessler’s office is located in the Dadeland Medical Building, 7400 N. Kendall Drive, directly across the street from Dadeland Shopping Mall and he may be reached at 305-670-3800 or at Lkgums@aol.com.