Houston, TX

MD Anderson Cancer Center's patient testifies of being oral cancer-free

Jessica Yang

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The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer CenterWikimedia Commons

HOUSTON, TX — The cancer treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center has generated many positive testimonials from its patients. One of its patients, Jessica King from Kilgore, Texas, gave her testimony of how she was able to recover from oral cancer thanks to treatment at the cancer center.

In August 2018, King initially felt pain on the left side of her jaw which was suspected to be a tooth infection. After she was examined, a dentist found symptoms of oral cancer. The suspicion was proven after a biopsy showed the spots were a sign of oral cancer.

One month later, in September 2018, she had to perform other biopsies at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. The results showed that she also had proliferative verrucous leukoplakia, a rare and aggressive precursor to oral cancer. Tumors were found in her gums, under her tongue, and in her jawbone.

Her treatment was handled by a physician assistant working in Head and Neck Surgery, Jill Flynn, and surgeon Jeffrey Myers M.D., Ph.D. Both doctors are quite familiar with cases like Jessica's.

One week after her first visit, Jessica underwent a nine-hour tracheostomy. Meanwhile, oral oncologist Richard Cardoso, DDS, extracted eight of Jessica's teeth and plastic surgeon Peirong Yu, MD, performed a vascularized fibular flap.

More than a month after the surgery, Jessica started her radiation therapy every day for six weeks. Due to the therapy, she experienced some side effects which include severe throat and mouth pain and significant burns.

During her recovery, Jessica needed several rehabilitative prosthetic fittings as the tissue in her mouth was constantly changing after the radiation. To cope with these changes, the oral oncology service created a customized framework that involved her existing teeth to help support, maintain, and stabilize her prosthesis.

Now Jessica is cancer-free and she has stayed in touch with Flynn who supported her during the treatment.

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