headshot of Nosa Osuzawa-Peters
A SERIOUS ISSUE DCI epidemiologist Nosayaba Osazuwa-Peters, PhD, MPH, BDS, an associate professor, Department of Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences, and an assistant professor, Department of Population Health Sciences, studies suicide risk in head and neck cancer patients.

Improving Suicide Prevention Among Head and Neck Cancer Patients 


In 2013, shortly after Nosayaba Osazuwa-Peters, PhD, MPH, BDS, had begun work on his doctorate degree in cancer epidemiology at St. Louis University, he gave a talk to a support group for patients with head and neck cancer. He drew on his experience as a dental surgeon in his home country of Nigeria to speak about managing the side effects of head and neck cancer treatment, such as dry mouth and tissue damage from radiation.

Afterward, a patient approached him, thanked him for the talk, and said, “Doc, do you know how it feels when everything you eat tastes like cardboard?"

Osazuwa-Peters had not heard it put that way before.

Another patient at the talk said to him, “Every night I go to bed, and I just pray I don't wake up in the morning.”

As he continued to talk to these patients, it struck him that “this is the reality of a patient with head and neck cancer.”

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This page was reviewed on 07/12/2023