Dental Blog

The Shocking Realities of Oral Cancer

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Many people assume oral cancer only affects smokers. In fact, there are many other surprising risk factors, and early detection is key. In order to help spread awareness for Oral Cancer Awareness Month, here are some statistics you may no know:

  • About 40,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with a form of oral cancer each year.
  • In addition to smoking and tobacco use, other risk factors include excessive sun exposure, heavy alcohol use and HPV infection.
  • Oral cancer is twice as common in men than women.
  • Oral cancer typically affects older people. The average age of diagnosis is 62, and only a quarter of cases are in people younger than 55
  • Oral cancer can occur anywhere in the oral cavity and pharynx, but typically it occurs most often in the tongue, the tonsils, the gums and the floor of the mouth
  • When found early, oral cancer patients have a survival rate of 80-90%, which why it is so important to diagnosis and treat it as early as possible.

The symptoms include:

  • Sores in the mouth that doesn’t heal within 14 days
  • Lumps in the cheeks or neck
  • White or red patches in the mouth (on gums, tongue, tonsil, etc.)
  • Difficulty swallowing and/or chewing
  • Trouble moving the jaw or tongue

Most forms of oral cancer are unfortunately diagnosed late not because they are hard to identify, but due to a lack of public awareness. If you notice these signs or anything unusual in your mouth, visit your dentist as soon as possible.