About 100 people are diagnosed with Oral Cancer everyday in the U.S. alone. Oral cancer claims almost as many lives as melanoma and twice as many as cervical cancer. Regular oral exams go a long way in detecting the disease in the first stage. When found early, survival rates are as high as 80- 90%. Unfortunately, in recent times the vast majority are found as late stage cancers, and this constitutes the high death rate related to oral cancer. The estimate is that 45% of people in these stages will die within five years of diagnosis.
Oral cancer, which includes the tongue, tonsils and throat, is usually brought on by one of three distinct causes: (1) long-term tobacco and/or alcohol use or (2) exposure to the HPV-16 virus, which is also responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancers in women (3) age factor: 95% of oral cancer occurs in people over the age of 40, with 60 being the average age of diagnosis.
About 5% of patients diagnosed with oral cancer had no known risk factors. Nearly every oral cancer starts as a tiny white or red spot about the size of a sesame seed. If you notice one of these spots, make an appointment right away. Although the majority of these occur due to some sort of trauma, like a pizza burn, cheek biting or a sharp tooth, its best to err on the side of caution.
To read more about oral cancer symptoms and the detection, please call our office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michael Miller or continue reading this article from the American Dental Association.