"I know as a patient with Sjögren’s I am at a higher risk for Lymphoma, is there anything my dentist could be on the lookout for to help catch it early?"
This is true; patients with Sjögren’s have an increased risk for developing lymphoma. Most commonly, the lymphoma associated with Sjögren’s is low-grade non-Hodgkin’s B-cell in nature. Visiting a dentist regularly, at least twice a year, is essential, as early detection may affect treatment.
What does lymphoma in the mouth look like?The tumors associated with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma usually present as non-tender, slow growing masses that may arise in several areas of the body including the neck or the oral cavity. In the mouth, lymphoma presents as a diffuse, non-tender swelling that may be described as boggy. Occurring with higher frequently in the gingiva, posterior (closer to the throat) hard palate and buccal vestibule (the area between the gums, teeth and cheek), these masses are often red or blue-purple in color.
So what does this mean?
As stated earlier, visiting a dentist regularly and routinely is extremely important for early detection. Additionally, when visiting your dentist, make sure to tell him/her of your history of Sjögren’s. It is important that your dentist conducts a thorough and comprehensive head and neck examination, which includes palpating the cervical lymph nodes (lymph nodes in your neck) as well as lifting the tongue and assessing the lateral borders (teeth sides of the tongue), the hard palate, floor of the mouth, buccal vestibules, soft palate, gingiva and the remaining soft tissues in the oral cavity.
Is there anything I can look out for?
Yes. It is important to visit your physician if you notice a swelling in your neck that persists for more than two weeks. You should also visit your dentist if you notice a swelling in your mouth that remains for more than two weeks. As a rule of thumb, if you notice any lesions in your mouth that remain for more than two weeks, it is recommended that you visit your dentist.
by Lauren Levi, DMD, Dental Oncologist
This information was first printed in The Moisture Seeker, SSF's patient
newsletter for members.