Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner opens up about cancer diagnosis during State of the City address

During Wednesday’s State of the City address, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner opened up about a personal fight after recently being diagnosed with a form of bone cancer in his jaw during the summer.

"I go to the dentist to get a root canal, on my way to France with a trade mission and doctors come and say it’s a little bit more than a root canal," said Mayor Turner. "And they tell me it’s Osteosarcoma, right there in my jaw area."

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The mayor says after his diagnosis, he went through a nine-hour surgery with doctors taking bone from his leg. He spent eight days in the hospital and radiation followed. 

Dr. Andrew Huang, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology at Baylor College of Medicine, says out of different types of cancers, Osteosarcoma is pretty rare and even more so rare in adults. 

"Osteosarcoma is a pretty rare cancer to happen in adults. It most commonly happens in children and young adults and when it does happen in adults, it tends to be less aggressive," says Dr. Andrew Huang. "The incidents are generally presumed to be about five per 100,000 and sometimes estimated five per 1 million people."

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Dr. Huang says this type of cancer usually develops in a person’s "long bones. "

"For an older adult, the jaw is one of the more common places where it will happen. But overall with the jaw, lower jaw, Osteosarcoma only accounts for 8%, so not very high at all," says Huang. 


He says since it is considered a rare type of cancer, research lags in comparison to other more common cancers. 

"It’s such a less common cancer that we don’t have a grasp as we do with colon cancer or breast cancer, for example," says Dr. Huang.