You may have already heard that Adam Yauch, also known as MCA, and a member of the hip-hop musical group The Beastie Boys, died last week from cancer at age 47. But you may not have realized what type of cancer claimed his life-cancer of the salivary gland, a type of oral cancer. Yauch was diagnosed in 2009, and his illness had prevented the band from performing live since that time, from releasing their most current album, and from appearing in music videos for their last album.
Although oral cancer itself is not a rare disease-approximately 37,000 people will be diagnosed with the disease every year-salivary gland cancer is unusual. In fact, only 2 out of every 100,000 individuals will be diagnosed with the disease each year, and the disease rarely strikes anyone under 55 years of age.
The key to beating all oral cancers is early detection because survival rates are high in early stages and treatment side effects are at their lowest. An annual screening should be done on every adult by your dentist, and any sore or lump (Yauch felt one in his throat) that doesn't heal in two weeks, should be checked out by a physician. Other early warning signs that should be mentioned to your doctor are a red or white discolorations of the soft tissue or your mouth, or prolonged hoarseness.
Please take a few minutes to watch the 2009 video of The Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch, as he announces to his fans that he has cancer, and is planning to undergo treatment. Now, nearly three years later, he is gone. If you are overdue for your annual oral cancer screening, please take the time to make your appointment today.