As Bakersfield's only full time Board Certified Prosthodontist, I have the privilege of working with the area's finest head and neck tumor surgeons. Many times I have found myself in the operating room with these expert physicians fashioning intraoral appliances for patients undergoing tumor surgery. This area of treatment is called Maxillofacial Prosthetics.
Oral Cancer Screening
Although the prognosis for long term survival is improving for many types of cancers, depression and death by suicide among patients with cancer is a concern. In a study of 32,487 patients, Yu, etal., reported in the Archives of Otolarygology and Head and Neck Surgery, compared changes in cause of death in four time periods from 1980 to 2007. They used standard mortality ratios to compare deaths from suicide, cardiovascular disease and pneumonia among patients with oral cancer and oral pharyngeal cancer. Over the 27 year period, cardiovascular disease related deaths decreased by 45.9% and pneumonia related deaths decreased by 42.9%. However, suicide deaths increased by 406.2%. The significant increase in suicide rates are tied to risk factors such as age 55 to 64 years, certain marital status (divorced, separated or never married), advanced tumor stage, treatment with radiotherapy alone and pharyngeal tumor location. Depression is a treatable condition and suicide is often preventable. Because of long-standing professional relationships with their patients and the ability for oral cancer screening at dental visits, dentists may be in a position to provide appropriate support and referral for early intervention for patients with oral cancer.