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Potato Chips and Oral Cancer

July 11, 2016
Posted By: Dr. Michael Terveen, DDS
Patient Getting Their Teeth Cleaned & Checked | Colorado Springs, Dentist

A few months ago there was an interesting news story about a woman who found out she had oral cancer by eating a potato chip!

How A Potato Chip Found Her Oral Cancer

Kristine Moore was an avid Ruffles potato chip fan, and had eaten them every single day for the past 20 years. On this particular day, a sharp edge of the chip poked the back of her throat. Kristine figured that she hadn't chewed well enough, but the next day her throat was still sore. She had her husband take a look and he noticed that her tonsils looked inflamed.

They took a trip to the doctor and after a few tests she received the diagnosis: squamous cell carcinoma. Luckily the cancer hadn't yet spread, so her prognosis was good. The potato chip may have saved her life!

Oral cancer is diagnosed in almost 50,000 people in the US yearly, with the risk factors being tobacco and alcohol use, as well as HPV (human papilloma virus). Sadly, the number of cases diagnosed each year is increasing. If caught early, there is an 80-90% survival rate. Unfortunately, most people don't realize they have oral cancer until it's in the late stage, where the five-year survival rate is only 43%.

Dental Exams & Oral Cancer Screening

This means that early detection is incredibly important. Your local dentist can provide a head and neck exam, which includes an oral cancer screening, at your regular dental checkup. Even people without teeth can get oral cancer, so they should also be seen for yearly screenings. If your dentist isn't providing a screening or you don't know if they are, ASK!

While I'm not an advocate for eating potato chips daily, I do highly recommend seeing your dentist for an annual oral cancer screening. You can visit for more information, or feel free to call Springs Family Dental at 719-634-4805

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