Thursday, April 21, 2011

Health Care and Easter

Easter is a time of celebration. Believers around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 2,000 years ago. Churches typically bring out all the stops on this holiest of days for the Christian community, and the reason to worship comes full circle as people recognize the purpose of Christianity. The miraculous took place when His tomb was found empty on the third day after Jesus' crucifixion in Jerusalem. What the world knows as Good Friday was not so good to Christ, and all hope seemed lost at the ninth hour that day on the Jewish clock. However, three days later God raised Him from the dead. Now, two millenia later, the world's Believers still worship the risen King.

About crucifixion: Crucifixion was invented by the Persians between 300-400 b.c. It was "perfected" by the Romans in the first century b.c. It is arguably the most painful death ever invented by man and is where we get our term "excruciating." It was reserved primarily for the most vicious of criminals. The most common device used for crucifixion was a wooden cross, which consisted of an upright pole permanently fixed in the ground with a removable crossbar, usually weighing between 75-100 lbs. Victims of crucifixion were typically stripped naked and their clothing divided by the Roman guards, according to As a gesture of "Roman kindness" the prisoner was offered a mixture of vinegar (gall) and wine as a mild anesthetic. This anesthetic was refused by Jesus.

The victim was then placed on his back, arms stretched out and nailed to the cross bar. The nails, which were generally about 7-9 inches long, were placed between the bones of the forearm (the radius and ulna) and the small bones of the hands (the carpal bones).  The placement of the nail at this point had several effects. First it ensured that the victim would indeed hang there until dead. Secondly, a nail placed at this point would sever the largest nerve in the hand called the median nerve. The severing of this nerve is a medical catastrophe. In addition to severe burning pain the destruction of this nerve causes permanent paralysis of the hand. Furthermore, by nailing the victim at this point in the wrist, there would be minimal bleeding and there would be no bones broken! The positioning of the feet is probably the most critical part of the mechanics of crucifixion. First the knees were flexed about 45 degrees and the feet were flexed (bent downward) an additional 45 degrees until they were parallel the vertical pole. An iron nail about 7-9 inches long was driven through the feet between the 2nd and 3rd metatarsal bones. In this position the nail would sever the dorsal pedal artery of the foot, but the resultant bleeding would be insufficient to cause death.

The resulting position on the cross sets up a horrific sequence of events which results in a slow, painful death. Having been pinned to the cross, the victim now has an impossible position to maintain, according to KHouse. With the knees flexed at about 45 degrees, the victim must bear his weight with the muscles of the thigh. However, this is an almost impossible task-try to stand with your knees flexed at 45 degrees for 5 minutes. As the strength of the legs gives out, the weight of the body must now be borne by the arms and shoulders. The result is that within a few minutes of being placed on the cross, the shoulders will become dislocated. Minutes later the elbows and wrists become dislocated. The result of these dislocations is that the arms are as much as 6-9 inches longer than normal. With the arms dislocated, considerable body weight is transferred to the chest, causing the rib cage to be elevated in a state of perpetual inhalation. Consequently, in order to exhale the victim must push down on his feet to allow the rib muscles to relax. The problem is that the victim cannot push very long because the legs are extremely fatigued. As time goes on, the victim is less and less able to bear weight on the legs, causing further dislocation of the arms and further raising of the chest wall, making breathing more and more difficult.

The result of this process is a series of catastrophic physiological effects. Because the victim cannot maintain adequate ventilation of the lungs, the blood oxygen level begins to diminish and the blood carbon dioxide (CO2) level begins to rise. This rising CO2 level stimulates the heart to beat faster in order to increase the delivery of oxygen and the removal of CO2. However, due to the pinning of the victim and the limitations of oxygen delivery, the victim cannot deliver more oxygen and the rising heart rate only increases oxygen demand. So this process sets up a vicious cycle of increasing oxygen demand-which cannot be met-followed by an ever increasing heart rate. After several hours the heart begins to fail, the lungs collapse and fill up with fluid, which further decreases oxygen delivery to the tissues. The blood loss and hyperventilation combines to cause severe dehydration.

The average time of suffering before death by crucifixion is stated to be about 2-4 days, although there are reported cases where the victims lived for 9 days. The actual causes of death by crucifixion were multifactorial, one of the most significant would have been the severity of the scourging. Jesus died a quick physical death. While many of the physical signs preceding death were present, one possibility is that Jesus did not die by physical factors which ended His ability to live, but that He gave up His life of His own accord.  Death in crucifixion was hastened by the breaking of the legs of the victim. This procedure, called crurifracture, prevented the ability of the victim to take in a good breath. Death would quickly occur from suffocation. In Jesus' case, He died quickly and did not have His legs broken.

To confirm that a victim was dead, the Romans inflicted a spear wound through the right side of the heart. When pierced, a sudden flow of blood and water came Jesus' body . The medical significance of the blood and water has been a matter of debate. One theory states that Jesus died of a massive myocardial infarction, in which the heart ruptured which may have resulted from His falling while carrying the cross. Another theory states that Jesus' heart was surrounded by fluid in the pericardium, which constricted the heart and caused death. The physical stresses of crucifixion may have produced a fatal cardiac arrhythmia. The stated order of "blood and water" may not necessarily indicate the order of appearance, but rather the relative prominence of each fluid. In this case, a spear through the right side of the heart would allow the pleural fluid (fluid built up in the lungs) to escape first, followed by a flow of blood from the wall of the right ventricle. The important fact is that the medical evidence supports that Jesus did die a physical death, according to Blue Letter Bible.

Jesus' death on the cross is recorded history, and so is His resurrection. Those disciples who were deathly afraid of being captured and killed were running for their lives trying to escape Roman soldiers, the Jewish leaders, and the general population that had turned against their leader. The first Sunday after the crucifixion they were not jumping up and down to say, "Hey, it's Easter." Remember, they were Jewish, and it was Passover. However, after Jesus was raised from the dead, those fearful followers became impassioned leaders who took his message to the known world in spite of torture, hatred, and martyrdom. They finally realized what the message was all about--eternal life. Christianity is the story of God sacrificing His Son to restore a relationship that was broken. Jesus resurrection was a miracle, but it shows the power of God and how much that can change lives even today.

When you get ready to celebrate Easter, keep these things in mind. This holiday is not about fancy new clothes, or visiting with family, or hunting eggs. Nor is it even about going to church. All those things are fine. The real reason you should be celebrating is to realize that the death and resurrection of Jesus was to provide you with a way to live forever. An examination of the evidence for the resurrection goes beyond just exploring the evidence Jesus rose from the dead, but to the reliability of the Bible itself and whether you have evidence the Bible is true. The physical resurrection of Jesus is crucial to the Christian faith; and if you need help to prove it, here is a site that provides evidence to support the claim: .

After Christ’s resurrection, His disciples and His teachings changed the world. Today, His work continues in this country and in countries around the world. Every day, countless Christians love their neighbors as themselves. And that helps create a better country and a better world. Remember the truth of Christ’s teachings in your private lives and in the public square. Every time you protect the life of the unborn, you remember His truth. Every time the sanctity of marriage is defended, you remember His truth. And every time citizens in the US acknowledge that America is one nation under God, Believers remember His truth.

May you have a blessed Easter...and may you remember to be humbled by His grace and sacrifice for all mankind. How is your spiritual health?

Until next time.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Health Care and Jet Lag

If you have spent any time on air travel, especially going to another time zone, you likely are familiar with "jet lag.". That simple little awareness in your daily cycle that something is slightly off when it comes to your internal clock. Jet lag is common, and anyone who flies can swear to its ability to wreak havoc on your mental and physical states. According to MedicineNet, jet lag, also called desynchronosis, is a temporary disorder that causes fatigue, insomnia, and other symptoms as a result of air travel across time zones. Besides fatigue and insomnia, a jet lag sufferer may experience anxiety, constipation, diarrhea, confusion, dehydration, headache, irritability, nausea, sweating, coordination problems, and even memory loss. Some individuals report additional symptoms, such as heartbeat irregularities and increased susceptibility to illness. The cause of jet lag is the inability of the body of a traveler to immediately adjust to the time in a different zone. Thus, when a New Yorker arrives in Paris at midnight Paris time, his or her body continues to operate on New York time. As the body struggles to cope with the new schedule, temporary insomnia, fatigue, irritability, and an impaired ability to concentrate may set in. The changed bathroom schedule may cause constipation or diarrhea, and the brain may become confused and disoriented as it attempts to juggle schedules.

These are the classic symptoms, according to

1.) Fatigue and disorientation--Becoming tired and disoriented for days after arriving. Lack of concentration and motivation, especially for any activity that requires some effort or skill, like driving, reading, or discussing a business deal. But even simple activities can become harder. And your ability to really enjoy that vacation is significantly reduced.

2.) Interrupted sleep--Crossing time zones can cause you to wake up during the night or make it difficult to get to sleep. You then end up trying to get to sleep during the day. Your built-in circadian rhythms have been disturbed. And it can take many days to readjust to the new time zone. In fact, NASA estimates that you'll need one day for every one-hour time zone crossed to get back to your normal rhythm and energy levels. So a five hour time difference means that you'll need five days to get back to normal. Can you afford that?

3.) Confusion and fuzziness--Having to go back to check two or three times to see if your hotel room was left locked or unlocked. That is typical of the effects reported by flight crews suffering from jet lag. And that is not good if you're on a business trip.

4.) Getting uptight--"Losing it" is another symptom reported by flight crews. And that helps explain why long distance flights can get very tedious toward the end. What's more, going through customs and immigration, then getting to your hotel can seem like a real challenge. In addition to the above symptoms of jet lag, the syndrome is made even worse by some common physical problems caused by being cooped up in an airliner for hours.

5.) Dehydration--That dry air aboard your aircraft can give you headaches, irritate your nostrils and dry your skin. In addition, you'll be more susceptible to any colds, coughs, sore throats and flu that may be floating around the aircraft.

6.) Uncomfortable legs and feet--Swollen limbs can be extremely uncomfortable. In some cases, it could actually prevent you from wearing your normal shoes for up to 24 hours after you land.

7.) Overall health problems--A report from the World Health Organization directly links jet lag to problems like diarrhea caused by microbes contaminating your water or food, affecting about 50% of long distance travelers. "Factors like travel fatigue, jet lag, a change in your diet, a different climate, and lowered immunity may aggravate the problem by lowering the traveler's resistance. And making passengers more susceptible to infection, or even poisoning," the World Health report points out.

If you live by a regular schedule (up at 7 a.m., in bed by 10 p.m. every night), watch out. Jet lag hits those with rigid body clocks the hardest. For parents, be sure to bring along books and toys your child can play with on his or her own, as kids are nearly immune to jet lag, according to A general rule of thumb to keep in mind before any long trip is the 1:1 ratio: allow yourself one day to recover for every hour time difference you experience. So for Californians visiting the Big Apple, give yourself at least three days to fully adjust to the new time zone.

Treat your body well before you fly. Exercise, sleep well, stay hydrated and stay sober. The worst thing you can do is get on a long-haul flight with a hangover. Some travelers like to exercise before they go to the airport. (This can actually help you sleep better on the plane.) Once you're at the airport, avoid the escalators and moving sidewalks. Instead, walk and take the stairs on the way to your check-in area and gate connections. Adjust your habits before you leave. If you are traveling from the East to the West Coast, you're facing a three-hour time change and you should try to adjust your internal clock. Three or four days before you leave, start to stay up a little later than usual, and sleep in a little longer. That way, if you become accustomed to falling asleep at 1 a.m. and waking up at 9 a.m. on the East Coast, it will be the same as falling asleep at 10 p.m. and waking up at 6 a.m. on the West Coast. Traveling west to east, do the opposite: get up and go to bed earlier. Wearing two watches, one set to the current time, and one to the time at your destination, can help you prepare yourself mentally for the coming time change. Many business travelers also use this tactic to stay in touch with what's happening back at the office, according to the Independent Traveler.

Another option-a controversial one-is synthetic melatonin, which is classified in the U.S. as a dietary supplement, according to For the purpose of treating jet lag, it is suggested that a dose between 0.3 mg and 5 mg of melatonin be taken on the first day you travel at the time you will want to go to sleep at your destination. This should be continued at bedtime for a few days once you are at your destination. Be aware that higher doses of melatonin can cause sleepiness, lethargy, confusion, and decreased mental sharpness. Operating motor vehicles or heavy machinery should be avoided after taking your daily dose of melatonin. Nevertheless, if you'd like to try melatonin tablets, check first with your health-care provider. Lots of follow up info can be found at this site: .

Perhaps the most effective way to combat jet lag while in flight is to treat your body well. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of nonalcoholic, non-caffeinated fluids. Don't be afraid to ask your flight attendant for extra water, according to Independent Traveler. Get up out of your seat at regular intervals to walk and stretch. You can also do exercises like toe raises, isometric exercises, stomach crunches and shoulder shrugs right in your seat. This keeps your blood flowing and prevents it from pooling at your extremities, a common phenomenon in pressurized cabins. Other tips: Get up to wash your face, brush your teeth or just stand up for several minutes. Wear loose-fitting clothing that breathes. Bring a neck pillow, blindfold or ear plugs -- these are invaluable on red-eye flights. Also, avoid any snug footwear (high heels or wingtips); it is quite possible that your feet will swell in transit, making your post-flight trek to baggage claim a nightmare. Even more tips can be found at:

Jet lag—it’s real, and it’s about time you get serious about it. And by get serious, you can download an app...Which brings you to JetLag Genie, an iPhone app devoted to conquering jet lag once and for all, available now, according to Think of this as your own personal sleep coach, gently nudging (and/or angrily poking) you onto Milan time before you even start packing. You’ll start by entering your flight info along with your usual sleep schedule (the Italians can accommodate your midnight grappa habit). Then, three days before your flight, your phone will wake you up a little earlier than usual, and that afternoon, you might get an ominous message instructing you to “seek dark.” (It’s probably not referring to ancient evil.) By the time you get on the plane, your internal clock will already be halfway to Milan. And for the next five days, the app will guide you through late-afternoon naps, mysterious melatonin supplements and seemingly insurmountable wake-up calls. And if you find yourself shifting gears to a sudden, kitesurfing-related business trip to Fiji... you can begin the whole process again. But bring coffee, just in case.

All in all, jet lag can be a challenge, especially if you are a frequent flyer. However, using some methods to work through the issue can help overcome many of the symptoms. Flying can be stressful. Do your best to manage jet lag so you don't add to your stress.

Until next time.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Health Care and Fever

Fever can be a sure indicator that something isn't right in your body, and really high fevers can be deadly if not treated immediately by a health care provider. Typically, a fever is the result of an infection somewhere in your body, and the symptoms can be readily seen in most cases. Low grade fevers may just cause you to feel sluggish, lethargic, and just an overall blah feeling. Children experience fevers on a regular basis and should be given care as soon as they exhibit those telltale signs.
Fever refers to an elevation in body temperature, according to MedicineNet. Technically, any body temperature above the normal oral measurement of 98.6 F (37 C) or the normal rectal temperature of 99 F (37.2 C) is considered to be elevated. However, these are averages, and one's normal body temperature may actually be 1 F (0.6 C) or more above or below the average of 98.6 F. Body temperature can also vary up to 1 F (0.6 C) throughout the day. Fever is not considered medically significant until body temperature is above 100.4 F (38 C). Anything above normal but below 100.4 F (38 C) is considered a low-grade fever.
Fever serves as one of the body's natural defenses against bacteria and viruses which cannot live at a higher temperature. For that reason, low fevers should normally go untreated, unless accompanied by troubling symptoms, according to MedicineNet. Also, the body's defense mechanisms seem to work more efficiently at a higher temperature. Fever is just one part of an illness, many times no more important than the presence of other symptoms such as cough, sore throat, fatigue, joint pains or aches, chills, nausea, etc. Fevers of 104 F (40 C) or higher demand immediate home treatment and subsequent medical attention, as they can result in delirium and convulsions, particularly in infants and children. Fever should not be confused with hyperthermia, which is a defect in your body's response to heat (thermoregulation), which can also raise the body temperature. This is usually caused by external sources such as being in a hot environment.

A simple cold or other viral infection can sometimes cause a high fever (102 - 104 °F, or 38.9 - 40 °C). This does not usually mean you or your child have a serious problem. Some serious infections may cause no fever or even a very low body temperature, especially in infants, according to MedlinePlus. If the fever is mild and you have no other problems, you do not need treatment. Drink fluids and rest. The illness is probably not serious if your child:
•Is still interested in playing.
•Is eating and drinking well.
•Is alert and smiling at you.
•Has a normal skin color.
•Looks well when their temperature comes down.

Take steps to lower a fever if you or your child is uncomfortable, vomiting, dried out (dehydrated), or not sleeping well. Remember, the goal is to lower, not eliminate, the fever, according to MedlinePlus. When trying to lower a fever:
•Do NOT bundle up someone who has the chills.
•Remove excess clothing or blankets. The room should be comfortable, not too hot or cool. Try one layer of lightweight clothing, and one lightweight blanket for sleep. If the room is hot or stuffy, a fan may help.
•A lukewarm bath or sponge bath may help cool someone with a fever. This is especially effective after medication is given -- otherwise the temperature might bounce right back up.
•Do NOT use cold baths, ice, or alcohol rubs. These cool the skin, but often make the situation worse by causing shivering, which raises the core body temperature.

Here are some guidelines, according to MedlinePlus, for taking medicine to lower a fever:
•Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) help reduce fever in children and adults. Sometimes doctors advise you to use both types of medicine.
•Take acetaminophen every 4 - 6 hours. It works by turning down the brain's thermostat.
•Take ibuprofen every 6 - 8 hours. DO NOT use ibuprofen in children younger than 6 months old.
•Aspirin is very effective for treating fever in adults. DO NOT give aspirin to a child unless your child's doctor tells you to.
•Know how much you or your child weighs, and then always check the instructions on the package.
•In children under age 3 months, call your doctor first before giving medicines.

According to MedlinePlus, here are some tips for eating and drinking with a fever:
•Everyone, especially children, should drink plenty of fluids. Water, popsicles, soup, and gelatin are all good choices.
•Do not give too much fruit or apple juice and avoid sports drinks in younger children.
•Although eating foods with a fever is fine, do not force foods.

In some cases, according to MedlinePlus, you should contact your doctor or a health care facility right away in the following situations:
Call a doctor right away if your child:

•Is younger than 3 months old and has a rectal temperature of 100.4 °F (38 °C) or higher.
•Is 3 -12 months old and has a fever of 102.2 °F (39 °C) or higher.
•Is under age 2 and has a fever that lasts longer than 24 - 48 hours.
•Is older and has a fever for longer than 48 - 72 hours.
•Has a fever over 105 °F (40.5 °C), unless it comes down readily with treatment and the person is comfortable.
•Has other symptoms that suggest an illness may need to be treated, such as a sore throat, earache, or cough.
•Has been having fevers come and go for up to a week or more, even if they are not very high.
•Has a serious medical illness, such as a heart problem, sickle cell anemia, diabetes, or cystic fibrosis.
•Recently had an immunization.
•Has a new rash or bruises appear.
•Has pain with urination.
•Has trouble with the immune system (chronic steroid therapy, after a bone marrow or organ transplant, spleen was removed, is HIV-positive, or is being treated for cancer).
•Has recently traveled to a third world country.

Call 911 if you or your child has a fever and:
•Is crying and cannot be calmed down (children).
•Cannot be awakened easily or at all.
•Seems confused.
•Cannot walk.
•Has difficulty breathing, even after their nose is cleared.
•Has blue lips, tongue, or nails.
•Has a very bad headache.
•Has a stiff neck.
•Refuses to move an arm or leg (children).
•Has a seizure.

Call your doctor right away if you are an adult and you:
•Have a fever over 105 °F (40.5 °C), unless it comes down readily with treatment and you are comfortable.
•Have a fever that stays at or keeps rising above 103 °F.
•Have a fever for longer than 48 - 72 hours.
•Have had fevers come and go for up to a week or more, even if they are not very high.
•Have a serious medical illness, such as a heart problem, sickle cell anemia, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, COPD, or other chronic lung problems.
•Have a new rash or bruises appear.
•Have pain with urination.
•Have trouble with your immune system (chronic steroid therapy, after a bone marrow or organ transplant, had spleen removed, HIV-positive, were being treated for cancer).
•Have recently traveled to a third world country.

Children and adults all get fevers. In healthy kids, fevers usually don't indicate anything serious. Although it can be frightening when your child's temperature rises, fever itself causes no harm and can actually be a good thing — it's often the body's way of fighting infections. And not all fevers need to be treated. High fever, however, can make a child uncomfortable and worsen problems such as dehydration, according to All kids get fevers, and in the majority of cases, most are completely back to normal within a few days. For older infants and kids (but not necessarily for infants younger than 3 months), the way they act is far more important than the reading on your thermometer. Everyone gets cranky when they have a fever. This is normal and should be expected. But if you're ever in doubt about what to do or what a fever might mean, or if your child is acting ill in a way that concerns you even if there's no fever, always call your doctor for advice. Lots of great info about this subject can be found at this site:

In most cases, a fever will come and go without much intervention from a doctor, according to If a specific cause is found, then the doctor can prescribe the appropriate medication and treat the illness. Occasionally, a second antibiotic, an antifungal medication, or other drug will be needed. Usually, with the appropriate therapy an infection will resolve and the person will return to normal. In some cases, a fever can be life-threatening. This is often seen in people with poor immune systems, certain types of meningitis, and severe abdominal pain. Pneumonia can be life-threatening in an older person. Any infection in which the source is not found can continue to get worse and become very dangerous. Severe hyperthermia can cause a coma, brain damage, or even death. A lot of info can be found at this site:

If you or your child is suffering with fever, take the proper precautions to handle the issue carefully and promptly to reduce the discomfort as quickly as possible. Remember, fevers can be mild or severe. Make sure you know what to do in either situation.

Until next time.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Health Care and Oral Cancer

Oral cancer can be a killer, and it is extremely painful. Tobacco users have been aware for decades of the possibility of contracting this disease. However, cancer in the mouth has been a scourge of those who spin the health care roulette wheel and hope to not lose. Oral Cancer affects Americans not only physically, but also financially and in many other ways.
Oral cancer is part of a group of cancers called head and neck cancers, according to MedicineNet. Oral cancer can develop in any part of the oral cavity or oropharynx. Most oral cancers begin in the tongue and in the floor of the mouth. Almost all oral cancers begin in the flat cells (squamous cells) that cover the surfaces of the mouth, tongue, and lips. These cancers are called squamous cell carcinomas.
Oral cancer is a silent killer in that it may not produce pain or other symptoms in the early stages. By the time a person realizes that there is a problem, the cancer has had an opportunity to spread to other areas of the body, according to the Consequently, the death rate for oral cancer is high -- higher than that of cervical cancer, skin cancer, Hodgkin's lymphoma, and testicular cancer. Roughly one person dies every hour of every day as the result of oral or pharyngeal cancer. Last year, approximately 37,000 Americans were diagnosed with oral cancer, and worldwide, more than 640,000 new cases were detected, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation. Regular dental examinations can improve the odds because early detection may lead to early cancer diagnosis and treatment. Even before a person notices any warning signs, a dentist may detect tissue changes or the actual cancer while it is still very small and more easily treated.

Doctors cannot always explain why one person develops oral cancer and another does not. However, we do know that this disease is not contagious, according to MedicineNet. You cannot "catch" oral cancer from another person. Research has shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop oral cancer. A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of developing a disease. The following are risk factors for oral cancer:

•Tobacco: Tobacco use accounts for most oral cancers. Smoking cigarettes, cigars, or pipes; using chewing tobacco; and dipping snuff are all linked to oral cancer. The use of other tobacco products (such as bidis and kreteks) may also increase the risk of oral cancer. Heavy smokers who use tobacco for a long time are most at risk. The risk is even higher for tobacco users who drink alcohol heavily. In fact, three out of four oral cancers occur in people who use alcohol, tobacco, or both alcohol and tobacco.

•Alcohol: People who drink alcohol are more likely to develop oral cancer than people who don't drink. The risk increases with the amount of alcohol that a person consumes. The risk increases even more if the person both drinks alcohol and uses tobacco.

•Sun: Cancer of the lip can be caused by exposure to the sun. Using a lotion or lip balm that has a sunscreen can reduce the risk. Wearing a hat with a brim can also block the sun's harmful rays. The risk of cancer of the lip increases if the person also smokes.

•A personal history of head and neck cancer: People who have had head and neck cancer are at increased risk of developing another primary head and neck cancer. Smoking increases this risk.

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, while some think this is a rare cancer, mouth cancer will be newly diagnosed in about 100 new individuals each day in the US alone, and a person dies from oral cancer every hour of every day. If you add the sub category of laryngeal throat cancers, the rates of occurrence (about 10,000 additional new cases per year) and death are significantly higher. When found at early stages of development, oral cancers have an 80 to 90 % survival rate. Unfortunately at this time, the majority are found as late stage cancers, and this accounts for the very high death rate of about 45% at five years from diagnosis, and high treatment related morbidity in survivors. Late stage diagnosis is not occurring because most of these cancers are hard to discover, it is because of a lack of public awareness coupled with the lack of a national program for opportunistic screenings which would yield early discovery by medical and dental professionals.
In the past, oral cancer patients were predominantly age 40 or older at the time they were diagnosed. Most patients are still older, but a growing number of patients are young people. In the latter group, the primary causes are smoking, the use of "smokeless" tobacco, and the human papilloma virus. Gender and race also play a role. Oral cancer has traditionally affected men by a six to one ratio over women, but in recent years, the gap between the sexes has closed to a ratio of two to one. This change may be the result of an increase in unhealthy lifestyle choices that women are making, such as smoking. Race plays a role in the development of oral cancer in that it occurs twice as often in African-Americans as in Caucasians, according to the OakRidger.

After a definitive diagnosis has been made and the cancer has been staged, treatment may begin. Treatment of oral cancers is ideally a multidisciplinary approach involving the efforts of surgeons, radiation oncologists, chemotherapy oncologists, dental practitioners, nutritionists, and rehabilitation and restorative specialists. The actual curative treatment modalities are usually surgery and radiation, with chemotherapy added to decrease the possibility of metastasis, to sensitize the malignant cells to radiation, or for those patients who have confirmed distant metastasis of the disease, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation. Prior to the commencement of curative treatment, it is likely that other oral health needs will be addressed. The purpose is to decrease the likelihood of developing post therapeutic complications. Teeth with poor prognosis from periodontal problems, caries, etc. may be extracted. This avoidance of post radiotherapy surgery is important as it can sometimes induce osteonecrosis, a condition which can develop when tissue damaged by radiation exposes the underlying bone. The bone, which has lost its ability to efficiently repair itself due to reduced blood supply, again from radiation exposure, yields a chronic and difficult to treat situation. A thorough prophylaxis, or cleaning will likely be done as well.

Prevention is always best, and making healthy lifestyle choices, such as steering clear of tobacco, may help. Regular dental examinations also are advisable. Anyone who develops a sore or discolored area in the mouth should see their dentist or family doctor if the place does not heal within two weeks. People also should seek medical help if they experience difficulty in swallowing, speaking, or chewing; persistent hoarseness; frequent ear aches; or numbness in the oral or facial region according to Dr. Joshua Campbell, D.D.S., an oral-maxillofacial surgeon on the staff of Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge.

Follow-up care after treatment for oral cancer is important, according to MedicineNet. Even when the cancer seems to have been completely removed or destroyed, the disease sometimes returns because undetected cancer cells remained in the body after treatment. The doctor monitors your recovery and checks for recurrence of cancer. Checkups help ensure that any changes in your health are noted. Your doctor will probably encourage you to inspect your mouth regularly and continue to have exams when you visit your dentist. It is important to report any changes in your mouth right away. Checkups include exams of the mouth, throat, and neck. From time to time, your doctor may do a complete physical exam, order blood tests, and take x-rays. People who have had oral cancer have a chance of developing a new cancer in the mouth, throat, or other areas of the head and neck. This is especially true for those who use tobacco or who drink alcohol heavily. Doctors strongly urge their patients to stop using tobacco and drinking to cut down the risk of a new cancer and other health problems.

Living with a serious disease such as oral cancer is not easy. You may worry about caring for your family, keeping your job, or continuing daily activities, according to MedicineNet. You may have concerns about treatments and managing side effects, hospital stays, and medical bills. Doctors, nurses, and other members of the health care team can answer your questions about treatment, working, or other activities. Meeting with a social worker, counselor, or member of the clergy can be helpful if you want to talk about your feelings or discuss your concerns. Often, a social worker can suggest resources for financial aid, transportation, home care, or emotional support. Support groups also can help. In these groups, patients or their family members meet with other patients or their families to share what they have learned about coping with the disease and the effects of treatment. Groups may offer support in person, over the telephone, or on the Internet. You may want to talk with a member of your health care team about finding a support group. Much more info can be found at this site: .

Until next time.