NY woman's oral cancer diagnosis led to 500-lb weight loss

2018 01 09 22 19 8339 Cancer Cell 400

A 35-year-old woman from New York City lost 500 lb following tongue removal surgery due to her stage 4 metastatic oral cancer diagnosis. The woman, who says she was addicted to food, believes her cancer saved her life, according to news reports.

Jen Costa said she fell into a depression and began eating her feelings after she was hit by a bus when she was 19. Over a span of 14 years, she gained 350 lb, leaving her unable to stand. Later, she began smoking PCP, which Costa believes caused her cancer.

In 2015, Costa's mouth began aching, and she noticed a white lump on her tongue, which ended up being cancerous. She saw a half dozen doctors and dentists before she was finally diagnosed with an aggressive form of squamous cell carcinoma that had spread to the lymph nodes in her neck.

Radiation was not an option, so she moved forward with tongue removal in 2016. She had forearm flap reconstructive surgery to create a new tongue.

Her grafted tongue has no feeling, so it prevents her from chewing or tasting anything. Costa lives on a diet of liquid shakes, which has helped her weight loss.

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