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Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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37 yr. old male is suffering from tongue cancer.

I am a 37 yr. old male, used smokeless tobacco for 20 yrs. I quit using smokeless tobacco about 4 months ago, in the last month I have developed white spots on the sides of my tongue. I am afraid it is tongue cancer , my only problem is that I am in the military and currently located at a forward operating base in Afghanistan. I don t have access to a dentist or any doctor who knows much about oral health. I should be back in states in 3 months, but am wondering if I need to try and get back home sooner. Really just need to know if a 3 month wait is going to be too disastrous. Thanks for the Help!!
Mon, 16 May 2011
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ENT Specialist 's  Response
1. Your Leukoplakia (white patches on tongue) are most probably related to smokeless tobacco use over the last two decades.
2. Leukoplakia is considered benign but a potential precancerous lesion with a risk of turning cancerous in 5 to 15% persons.
3. Stopping the irritative factor, such as smokeless tobacco in your case, lowers the risk. Usually, the Leukoplakia stabilizes or reduces after the original irritation that caused it has been stopped.There are some other causes besides tobacco which can lead to other types of Leukoplakia.
4. There is no substitute for direct examination and biopsy.
5. There is no harm in waiting for three months with true Leukoplakia, however if the lesion turns cancerous, it will spread fast as the tongue is a very vascular organ rich in lymphatics which drain to both sides of the body.
6. One option for you is a brush biopsy with Oral CDX which you can easily arrange for.
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