Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

How do I know whether or not to have a biopsy? I have a strange
growth on my tongue. My dentist referred me to an oral surgeon who
said it was not a big deal. I was worried, so went to a second oral
surgeon who said it was 95% likely nothing, but that if I wanted a
biopsy to relive my worrying I could have one. Nothing about anyone
carving up my tongue sounds good, from a point of view of costs,
pain, and health. But neither does oral cancer. From everyone in my
life who has ever dealt with cancer I am hearing, Do the biopsy NOW!!
From others I am told, wait and see, just poking at can make it change
for the worse. How can I make this decision? I am generally healthy,
and when I go to the internet the images they show of the diagnostic
words I have been given are horrific and ugly. I have basically a little
zit, not anything that looks at all like the pictures. But I don’t want oral


Dear Confused:

I’m not a doctor, dentist, oral surgeon, or omniscient. I’m also just as
risk averse as you are regarding medical procedures, and just as likely
to fret about the unknown. But no one, not even the oral surgeon
willing to do the biopsy, can guarantee you what will happen, and that
includes whether or not the zit on your tongue won’t get worse the day
after the cells are declared benign. There are probably things going on
right now in your body that are at least as dangerous as the zit. We
can’t ever know it all, and very few of us can predict whether we’ll die
by cancer or being hit by a truck. We’re not immortal. It’s how we live
that matters, and that includes taking responsibility for health choices.


If money, pain, inconvenience, or unintended consequences did not
exist, I’d say get the biopsy. If any or all of those matter more to you
than not knowing, I’d say watch and wait for a month or two and see
what happens. That’s doubly or triply true if you can meet with your
medical doctor and show him/her the zit. Depending on what your doc
says, consider going on an upgraded and healthy regimen for a while,
maybe even a diet, fast, or cleanse that’ll clear old toxicity out of your
system. If the zit lingers and you’re still fretting, get it checked out for
peace of mind. Sorry, only you can make this decision and your friends
should support the choice you make.