A Complicated Diagnosis
- A Medford, Oregon man named Jude Torres had discoloration on his tongue in 2013 and claims his dentist told him he had nothing to worry about. He had biopsied the area and apparently said it was clear. Fast forward seven years later and another doctor diagnosed Torres with advanced stage cancer in the same area of discoloration.
- Torres reportedly had to lose half of his tongue in order to save his life from the disease, and is now suing the former dentist for medical malpractice; the cancer survivor wants $6.6 million.
- Tongue cancer, which is often categorized as a head and neck cancer, is associated with the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which is a highly common sexually transmitted virus.
- There is also now an HPV vaccine that prevents against HPV-related cancers and can be administered starting as young as nine years old.
Fast forward seven years later, and another doctor reportedly diagnosed Torres with advanced stage cancer in the same area of discoloration. Torres, who was a regular patient at Southern Oregon Dental, is suing Dr. Charles Aoto for $6.6 million, according to reports from a local Oregon news station.Read More
Then in 2020, the outlet says that Torres noticed an open sore in the same place as the discoloration. After finding out the dental group’s location near his home closed, he decided to go to another dentist in Medford. At the sight of his tongue, Torres was then immediately referred to an oral surgeon. It turns out that Torres was then diagnosed with advanced squamous cell carcinoma.
To make matters worse, the outlet says that Torres was then informed that surgeons would need to remove half of his tongue in order to save his life. The reconstruction plan was to replace the right area of the tongue with tissue from his forearm.
In addition to the removal and reconstruction of his tongue, Torres allegedly had a total of 68 lymph nodes taken from his neck.
Channel 3 Oregon says that they reached out to Dr. Charles Aoto for comment, but did not receive a response.
Tongue cancer, which is often categorized as a “head and neck cancer,” is associated with HPV, the human papillomavirus. Only in recent years have doctors been discovering more about the virus and its association with these diseases.
There is also now an HPV vaccine that prevents against HPV-related cancers and can be administered starting as young as nine years old.
“We recommend strongly that children are vaccinated against HPV to prevent cervical cancer, but also to prevent head and neck cancer,” Dr. Jessica Geiger, a medical oncologist at Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center, told SurvivorNet in an earlier interview. “Now the key with the vaccine is that you received the vaccine before you ever reach sexual debut or have sexual encounters. So that’s why these vaccines are approved for young children ages 9, 10, 11 years old, up to 26.”
More on HPV and Cancer
The human papillomavirus is spread through sexual contact.
“HPV is a virus that’s actually very well spread throughout Western society. Fortunately, for the majority of us, over 90%, we clear the virus without ever knowing that we were exposed,” Dr. Geiger said.
However, in 6% or 7% of the population, “the virus remains dormant in our body,” she explained. “And over time, meaning decades after we were first exposed, the virus gets into our DNA, and likes to settle in the tissues of the cervix or the back of the throat, and can ultimately cause changes that form cancer.”
The important thing to know about HPV is that there are many different strains, and only a couple of them tend to cause cance
“The vast majority of humans in the US, both men and woman, will eventually get infected with human papillomavirus,” Dr. Allen Ho from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center tells SurvivorNet. “Probably less than 1% of the population who get infected happen to have the cancer-causing virus that, somehow, their immune system fails to clear.”