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Woman’s painful toothache turns out to be dangerous cancer

‘In addition to my health, my personal life was hit too as I went through a divorce last year’ (Picture: MDWfeatures/@nicolescrookedsmile)

A woman has been left toothless after her unchecked toothache turned out to be cancer.

Nicole Kowalski, 28, first started experiencing pain in her mouth back in 2017.

The student from Los Angeles, California, went to see a dentist but was brushed off and told it was nothing to worry about.

Six months later, the pain was only getting worse and was so bad that it made it impossible for Nicole to sleep.

In January, 2018, she went back and this time the x-ray showed that there was bone missing in her upper jaw. The dentist referred the student to an oral surgeon, who performed a biopsy and found that Nicole had a rare, benign tumour in her mouth.

Although the mass was not deadly, the blonde still had to undergo surgery to remove it, which involved taking out four of her teeth.

She was given an obturator to use, a prosthetic retainer fitted into the hole in her mouth post-surgery. Despite the necessity of this medical item, without which she wouldn’t be able to eat or talk, it is considered ‘unnecessary’ by the US healthcare system.

Unfortunately, this surgery was also not the end of Nicole’s misery.

During a check-up two weeks later, doctors discovered that she had salivary gland cancer.

Nicole’s smile is now unrecognisable, with her having recently removed seven teeth – including those in the front (Picture: MDWfeatures/@nicolescrookedsmile)

Nicole said: ‘Cancer runs in my family so you kind of realise that the chance you might get it is always there but I wasn’t prepared to hear those words.

‘I thought about my age and all the things I wanted to do. I felt an immense sense of loneliness.

‘It started with a toothache. The dentist told me it was nothing to worry about but over the next six months, the pain increased and spread to my jaw and face.

‘It was so intense that I couldn’t sleep. Eventually after a few trips to the doctors, an x-ray at the dentists revealed some bone loss.

‘A biopsy revealed that I had a benign tumour. This was in my upper right jaw and I underwent surgery to remove it.

‘The doctor removed four teeth and a portion of my soft palate and I was given my obturator to fill in the defect and replace the teeth.

‘It wasn’t until I went back for my follow up appointment that I found out I was misdiagnosed and had salivary gland cancer.’

Nicole still suffers from pain but the cancer is gone, for now (Picture: MDWfeatures/@nicolescrookedsmile)

What followed was a month of radiation treatment, which in turn caused side effects including trismus – also known as lockjaw – a condition that makes the muscles spasm.

As a result, Nicole could barely open her mouth, and had to undergo physical therapy for her jaw as well as speech therapy.

Despite the

Why Japanese researchers say there’s “no reason” to keep doing painful COVID nasal swab tests

Tokyo — Researchers in Japan announced “game changing” research this week that found simple saliva tests for COVID-19 are just as reliable as the widely used, but more complicated and uncomfortable, swab tests. The study involved testing almost 2,000 people who were showing no symptoms of the coronavirus using both saliva and the familiar nasal swab. 

The results have already upended conventional wisdom about mass screening in Japan.

“Now it’s clear by our data that sensitivity and specificity are the same” for saliva and swab tests, research team leader Takanori Teshima of Hokkaido University told CBS News. Given the importance public health experts put on mass-screening for asymptomatic carriers of the virus, Teshima said the strong evidence that simple, non-invasive saliva tests are just as effective as the far more common “PCR” tests is “game changing.”

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“We have no reason to continue to collect samples by swab,” Teshima said. “It’s costly, requires health care workers, and is painful.”

Teshima presented the results of the research on 1,924 asymptomatic individuals this week. It was one of the largest studies to date directly comparing saliva tests and the nasal swab tests for reliability. Subjects were asked to spit into a cup, and undergo the established nasal swab procedure at local health clinics and at Tokyo’s Haneda airport and Kansai International airport in Osaka.

Unlike swabbing, which requires trained medical staff in protective gear to collect each sample and risk infection themselves, giving a saliva sample is no more complicated than walking into a booth and drooling in a cup.

The dual analyses were carried out using the standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method, and the RT-LAMP procedure that detects the virus in saliva. The simple viral diagnostic tool has been used for years to test for MERS, SARS and Ebola.

The Hokkaido study concluded that saliva testing was about 90% accurate in identifying positive cases, with nearly no false positives, a performance rate almost exactly on par with nasal swab sampling. Both tests, Teshima said, accurately identified negatives in nearly all cases.

Graphs comparing the sensitivity and specificity of two different types of COVID-19 test (“NPS” or nasal swab for PCR testing and saliva) from data gathered during a study by Japan’s Hokkaido University, published in September 2020 in the medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. 

Clinical Infectious Diseases/Hokkaido University

But while both methods were found to be highly accurate, “saliva testing has significant logistic advantages over the commonly used nasopharyngeal swab testing,” Teshima said.

The RT-LAMP machines used for the saliva tests are compact, require no special training to operate, and yield results in just 30 minutes. Japanese regulators approved the use of saliva testing over the summer, and in doing so helped eliminated long lines for passengers at airport screening points.

Teshima said mass screening of asymptomatic people at large venues like airports will ultimately shift to a third method, antigen testing, which yields results more quickly. But to compensate for that method’s lower