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Dean George is the Marketing Specialist and Content Creator for Dental Insurance
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Five Famous Names of Oral Cancer

Apr 26, 2016

By Dean George

Carcinoma. Sarcoma. Lymphoma. Blastoma.

There are over 100 different types and many classifications of cancer that affect humans. Whatever the type and classification, cancer remains the “dread disease” first mentioned in 19th century newspapers.

As we reported in A Famous Race against Oral Cancer last summer, the subject of oral cancer was highly publicized in the 1880’s when several New York newspapers covered the struggles of former President Ulysses S. Grant in his painful last few months of life.

Earlier this month as part of Oral Cancer Awareness Month, we noted that the mortality rate for oral cancer is high because the early stages of the disease are often symptom-free and painless. People often don’t realize they have oral cancer because it’s diagnosed too late.


As part of our continuing reporting on oral cancer this month, today we are featuring five prominent people that suffered from oral cancer. Some survived, others did not.

Roger Ebert – Ebert was a well know film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death. His reviews were syndicated in more than 200 newspapers in the U.S and abroad. In 1975 he became the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. Ebert also was the first film critic to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Ebert and Chicago Tribune critic, Gene Siskel co-hosted Sneak Preview on PBS and other film reviewing shows. They trademarked the phrase, “Two Thumbs Up” when both gave a positive review.

The dry-witted Ebert suffered from thyroid cancer in 2002 and salivary gland cancer in 2003 that eventually required the removal of his lower jaw. In 2006, he had additional cancer surgery near his jaw and later lost his ability to speak when his carotid artery burst. He died in 2013 after 11 years of various mouth and throat cancers.

Jim Thorpe Thorpe is considered one of the greatest athletes in modern sports. A Sac and Fox Indian, Wa-Tho-Huk, meaning “Bright Path,” won gold medals in the 1912 Olympic pentathlon and decathlon, though he lost those medals after it was learned he played semi-pro baseball before the 1912 Games. Thorpe later played collegiate and pro football (he made the Hall of Fame in both), major league baseball and professional basketball.

Thorpe played professional sports until age 41 and the start of the Great Depression. After his athletic career ended, he struggled with holding regular employment and wrestled with alcoholism.

A joint resolution of Congress in 1999 recognized him as the greatest athlete in the 20th century. In one ABC Sports poll, Thorpe beat out Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Jesse Owens, Babe Ruth, Wayne Gretzky, Jack Nicklaus and eight others as the Greatest Athlete of the century.

In 1950 Thorpe was diagnosed with lip cancer before dying of heart failure at age 65 in 1953.

Charlie Watts – Watts has been a drummer for the Rolling Stones since 1963. Cited by one music critic as rock & roll’s greatest drummer, Watts isn’t your typical rock music percussionist. He started his music career in rhythm and blues and admits jazz is his favorite music genre.

Before joining the Rolling Stones, Watts worked as a graphic designer and contributed graphic art to the band’s early records. He also is widely known as a sharp dresser after London’s The Daily Telegraph named him to their World’s Best Dressed Men list and Vanity Fair elected him into their International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame.

While the “bad boy” exploits of Watt’s fellow band members have been widely reported for years, the mild mannered Watts told the BBC in 2001 of a long time compulsive habit he had when the band toured: sketching every hotel room he visited – complete with furnishings.

Watts quit smoking in the late 1980’s but was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2004. After radiotherapy the cancer went into remission and the 74-year-old drummer still plays for the Stones today.

Aldous Huxley-If Huxley’s name isn’t familiar, his 1932 book classic probably is: Brave New World. Brave New World was Huxley’s fifth novel and his best known. Over the course of his career Huxley edited Oxford Poetry magazine, wrote short stories, poetry and travel articles.

In the late 1930’s he worked as a Hollywood screenwriter where he earned more than $3,000 per week.  He used much of his salary to help Jewish writers and artist refugees emigrate to the U.S. from Hitler’s Germany.

Huxley was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in seven different years and was elected Companion of Literature, Great Britain’s Royal Society of Literature a year before he died in 1962. Huxley was known as one of the greatest intellectuals of his time. In 1960, he was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer. Three years later, his death was overshadowed by the passing of two other prominent men on that same date: President John F. Kennedy and fellow author C.S. Lewis.

Humphrey Bogart – “Here’s looking at you, kid.” That famous line uttered by Bogart from the closing scene of Casablanca is part of Hollywood lore.

Bogart served in the U.S. Navy in World War I, and when he returned it wasn’t movies he performed in – it was Broadway shows.  He worked regularly in a variety of plays until the stock market crash of 1929 killed the theatre market. It was at that point that Bogart turned his acting skills to film for which he is best known.

Bogart excelled in the film noir movies of the 1940’s like Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep. From his first big role in The Petrified Forest in 1936 to his last film in The Harder They Fall in 1956, “Bogie” appeared in more than 75 feature films over his 30-year film career. The American Film Institute rated him the greatest male star of Classic American cinema in 1999.

Bogart drank and smoke heavily and in early 1956 was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. A decision was made to remove his esophagus, two lymph nodes and a rib. Despite chemotherapy the cancer spread. He underwent a second corrective surgery in November before passing away two months later, 20 days after his 57th birthday.

As we’ve written before, early discovery is critical to surviving oral cancer. The five-year survival rate for all stages of oral cancer is just 61%, but if caught in the first two stages, its 83%. Dentists are often on the front lines of early oral cancer detection when performing routine oral exams. Most dental plans also offer specific oral cancer screening as a standard preventative benefit.

To find plans available in your area, click here. Thanks for reading, and remember: if you’re not following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest, Google+, or LinkedIn, we’re telling your dentist on you. 

Source: fightoralcancer.org, wikipedia.org, youtube.com
Photo sources: dentistrytoday.com, shabanpoor.ir, keyassets.timeincuk.net, i1112.photobucket.com,mesacc.edu, dailycamera.com 


Copyright 2016, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC  

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