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April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month | 5 Oral Cancer Stats You Need To Know

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

This April, the nation observes the 17th Annual Oral Cancer Awareness Month and Keystone Dental Arts joins the nation’s top dental associations and health organizations in this campaign to raise awareness of oral cancer screenings and the importance of early detection.

According to a survey just released by Vigilant Biosciences, Inc, a leading innovator and developer of solutions that aid in the early detection and intervention of cancer, 58% of US adults know little or nothing at all about oral cancer, and only 37% report being screened for oral cancer at their last dental check-up.

The Word Of Mouth on Oral, Head and Neck Cancer 2016, by Vigilant Biosciences in collaboration with Head and NeckCancer Alliance and Support for People with Oral and Head and Neck Cancer. (PRNewsFoto/Vigilant Biosciences, Inc.)

The Word Of Mouth on Oral, Head and Neck Cancer 2016, by Vigilant Biosciences in collaboration with Head and NeckCancer Alliance and Support for People with Oral and Head and Neck Cancer. (PRNewsFoto/Vigilant Biosciences, Inc.)

The Top 5 Stats You Need To Know About Oral Cancer from the American Cancer Society:

  1. About 48,330 people in the United States will be diagnosed with oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers this year.

  2. An estimated 9,570 people will die of these cancers. That is more than 1 person, every hour, of every day of the year.

  3. These cancers are 2x more common in men as in women.

  4. Early diagnosis of oral cancer results in a cure rate of up to 90%.

  5. The vast majority of patients are detected through a visual exam and/or are symptomatic, at which point they are likely late stage.

The good news is that oral cancer can often be found early in its development, through screening.

Who should get screened?

The Oral Cancer Foundation (OCF) advocates, screening for every adult. “Oral cancer can often be caught early, even as a pre-cancer. With early detection, survival rates are high and the side effects are from treatment are at their lowest.

What are the risk factors?

The OCF states, “There are two distinct pathways by which most people come to oral cancer. One is through the use of tobacco and alcohol, a long term historic problem and cause, and the other is through exposure to the HPV16 virus (human papilloma virus version 16), which is now the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancers in the US, and the same one, which is responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancers in women. The quickest growing segment of the oral cancer population are young, healthy, non-smokers due to the connection to this virus.

The OCF also recommends being mindful between screenings and suggests contacting your doctor or dental professional with any persistent signs of these Early Indicators:

  1. Red and/or white discolorations of the soft tissues of the mouth.

  2. Any sore which does not heal within 14 days.

  3. Hoarseness which lasts for a prolonged period of time.

Advanced Indicators:

  1. A sensation that something is stuck in you throat.

  2. Numbness in the oral region.

  3. Difficulty in moving the jaw or tongue.

  4. Difficulty in swallowing.

  5. Ear pain which occurs on one side only.

  6. A sore under a denture, which even after adjustment of the denture, still does not heal.

  7. A lump or thickening which develops in the mouth or on the neck.

While a biopsy is the only way to detect oral cancer, regular dental visits provide opportunity to identify suspicious areas that warrant further evaluation.

We perform an oral cancer screening as part of your routine cleaning, periodic exam or check-up.

Like other screenings you engage in such as cervical, skin, prostate, colon and breast examinations; oral cancer screenings should be part of your annual health check-ups, as an effective means of finding cancer at its early, highly curable stages.

If you are overdue for a periodic dental exam, call us at 603.692.9229 or visit our website to schedule your appointment with us today.

For more information on oral cancers, we suggest the following trusted resources:

  1. OCF The Oral Cancer Foundation

  2. The American Cancer Society

  3. The American Dental Association

  4. The Head and Neck Cancer Alliance

  5. SPOHNC (Support for People with Oral and Head and Neck Cancer)

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