Tales from the Operatory Part II: Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States, serving for two terms. General Grant was the Supreme commander of the Union Army during the Civil War and to whom General Robert E Lee, of the Confederate Army, was at the Appomattox Court House in Virginia to end the Civil War. The S in Ulysses S Grant was just an initial and did not stand for anything according to Grant.

General Grant was known for his constant cigar smoking and whiskey drinking. As a result, this civil war hero fought a battle once again, to which he had to surrender, losing his life to throat cancer. His was epithelial (or today called squamous cell carcinoma) cancer which is the skin lining of the throat that is cancerous, the cells multiplying so fast, swelling, and painful, blocking the ability to swallow as well as closing the airway.

President Grant established the National Park system with the first National Park, Yellowstone. President Grant signed the bill establishing the Department of Justice. He fought for the civil rights of both African Americans and Native Americans. He pushed for the passage of the 15th Amendment, giving the right of all men to vote regardless of race, color, or whether they were former slaves. Grant also signed a bill that allowed persons of African descent to become U.S. citizens. President Grant was also responsible for the dismantling of the Ku Klux Klan during Reconstruction.

Mark Twain aided General Grant in publishing his memoirs while a bankrupt Grant was dying from cancer, finishing the book just days before succumbing to his cancer. In so doing he saved his wife from destitution as it became a best seller.

In the United States, more than 200,000 cases are reported a year. More than 75 out of 100 people (more than 75%) survive their cancer for 1 year or more after they are diagnosed. around 55 out of 100 people (around 55%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis. Risk factors include tobacco use, heavy alcohol use, and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Oral cancer most commonly occurs on the lips, tongue, and floor of the mouth but can also start in the cheeks, gums, roof of the mouth, tonsils, and salivary glands and down the throat.

The symptoms of mouth cancer include:

  • mouth ulcers that are painful and do not heal within several weeks
  • unexplained, persistent lumps in the mouth or the neck that do not go away
  • unexplained loose teeth or sockets that do not heal after extractions
  • unexplained, persistent numbness or an odd feeling on the lip or tongue
  • sometimes, white or red patches on the lining of the mouth or tongue These can be early signs of cancer, so they should also be checked
  • changes in speech, such as a lisp

Treatment includes surgery and radiation therapy. In some cases, chemotherapy may also be needed.

Cancer can be difficult to discuss, but it is very much worse going through it. The earlier the discovery, the sooner treatments can begin, and survival statistics rise exponentially the sooner treatment starts. This is another reason to have regular exams with your dentist who will always include the checks for cancer.

Columbia Dental is the practice to see with our early and late hours, seven days a week. Columbia Dental has the specialists to aid in your care, the in-house digital dental lab and we can care for you in one day, the same day, 7 days a week.

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