Oral Cancer Screening & HPV, Dr. Weller Chicago
Oral Cancer and HPV Screening
Dina Blair: In tonight's medical watch, a cancer causing virus spread through sex in a place few want to talk about. Oral cancer is on the rise, and smoking is on the decline. Doctors say the disease is striking the mouth because a sexually transmitted virus is taking hold there.
Actor 1: What? What is it?
Actor 2: Barbara.
Actor 1: Tell me what's wrong with me.
Dina Blair: This is a scene from the soap opera, As The World Turns, where Barbara Ryan gets diagnosed with oral cancer. The news came as a deja vu for Colleen Zenk Pinter, who got the news from her real doctor last year.
Colleen Zenk Pinter: When I went to see the first group of doctors, I said to them, "How on earth did I get this cancer?" And the answer was, "We believe there's an HPV connection."
Dina Blair: HPV, the human papilloma virus, already linked to cervical cancer, also may cause cancer in the mouth and throat.
Dr. Ezra Cohen: We know that it is transmitted by contact, and that contact is usually sexual. The same seems to be true for oral cancer or tonsil cancer, that the way to contract the virus is through oral sexual activity.
Dina Blair: Colleen never worried what people would think when she revealed her cancer connection to a sexually transmitted virus. Instead, she urged the producers of her soap opera to write her experience into the storyline, so she could help educate others.
Dr. Jeff Weller: Every hour, one person dies from oral cancer, so ...
Dina Blair: Dr. Paul Weller is on the same mission, offering his dental patients a special test to screen for oral cancer before it spreads.
Dr. Jeff Weller: So, what we have today is a special test. It's similar to a Pap smear, but this is to check for oral cancer.
Dina Blair: First, patients rinse with a special liquid to dry the tissue and darken it. The room is darkened, and the invisa-light is shined into the mouth.
Dr. Jeff Weller: What the chemical light is showing, that we could see lesions up underneath the tissue, because they'll pop out at us and be brighter, so it's visible by the eye with this chemical light.
Dina Blair: Carol Johnson wanted the screening. The restaurant owner says her palette is her career. She was happy to pay the extra $65 for the test.
Carol Johnson: If I can come to the dentist, which I come to anyways, and an extra five minutes for a relatively non-invasive, painless test, why not?
Dina Blair: Doctors are also encouraging the HPV vaccine, currently given only to girls to protect them from the virus that causes cervical cancer. Experts say the link between oral cancer and HPV makes it important for boys to get the vaccine as well. Steve, Micah?
Steve: Thank you, Dina.
Micah: Thanks, Dina.