• By Dana Sparks

Sharing Mayo Clinic: Throat cancer treatment gives dentist new perspective

November 26, 2017

After undergoing robotic surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy as part of a clinical trial to treat cancer, Bruce Trulson has gained a new understanding of how he can better care for his own patients.

In 2015, after nearly 40 years of practicing dentistry, Bruce Trulson, D.D.S., gained new insight into how to care for his patients when, following a diagnosis of throat cancer, he became a patient himself.

That summer Bruce noticed, while he was shaving, a lymph node under the right side of his jaw was swollen. When it remained that way for a few weeks, Bruce called his Mayo Clinic primary care provider. The call set him on a journey not only to a surprising diagnosis but to a unique approach to treating throat cancer. It also deepened Bruce's understanding of his own practice.

"It's made me a better dentist," says Bruce, who lives and works in Stewartville, Minnesota. "Since returning to work after my treatments, I've had a number of patients who've gone through cancer. They come back to see me because I've been there and done that. You speak the same language if you've gone through this sort of thing."

The experience also changed the way Bruce conducts his patient exams.

"I'm much more attuned to checking the lymph nodes of my patients," he says. "People come in to see the dentist on a regular basis, and we're the first line for finding these things." Read the rest of Bruce's story.
This article originally appeared on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.