According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, one person dies from oral cancer every hour of every day just in the United States alone. Worldwide, more than 300,100 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each and every year. This is clearly a worldwide health problem. The scary part is that oral cancer cases are on the rise and no one is quite sure why. But it is not all gloom and doom. There is hope. Oral cancer is very treatable if it is detected early. And there are many devices being created that help to detect oral cancer earlier. Plus there is a large push for awareness as well. So learn about the risk factors for oral cancer, get screened regularly and you could just save your life.
Oral Cancer Cases
Oral cancer is any cancer that forms in the mouth. This includes cancer of the tongue, lips, tonsils, sinuses, throat, and gums. Every single day in the United States of America, over 99 people are diagnosed with cancer of the mouth. This equals more than 35,000 new oral cancer cases diagnosed yearly. One scary fact is that the number of cases in 2007 increased by over ten percent when compared to the numbers in 2006. No one is sure what is the cause of this frightening increase in diagnosed cases.
The good news is that the survival rates for oral cancer when it is detected early is quite high. At over eighty percent, your chances of surviving with early detection are very good. The bad news is that oral cancer is often not spotted early. And the worse news is that when it is detected late, the survival rate for oral cancer drops to around fifty percent.
So what increases your risk of getting oral cancer and what can you do to minimize it? The good news here is that most causes of oral cancer are avoidable. The number one thing that contributes to oral cancer cases is tobacco. Long known to cause lung cancer, tobacco use is also complicit in oral cancer cases. Tobacco is a factor in over seventy five percent of oral cancer cases. The next leading cause of oral cancer is alcohol use. Excessive alcohol use is linked to developing oral cancer. Tobacco and alcohol use together greatly increases your chance for developing oral cancer. The third leading cause of oral cancer cases is the HPV virus. This STD is known to cause cervical cancer in women, but it has recently been linked to oral cancer as well. This means that oral cancer can be contracted through sexual contact with the mouth. All remaining cases of oral cancer have no determined cause but they are thought to be related to a genetic predisposition to oral cancer.
Oral Cancer Symptoms to Watch for
The symptoms of oral cancer are any Skin lesion, lump, or ulcer that does not go away after two weeks. It can be located on the tongue, lip, or other mouth areas. The characteristics of oral cancer are:
- Usually small
- Most often pale colored, may be dark or discolored
- Early sign may be a white patch (leukoplakia) or a red patch (erythroplakia) on the soft tissues of the mouth
- Usually painless initially
- May develop a burning sensation or pain when the tumor is advanced
Additional symptom that may present
- Tongue problems
- Swallowing difficulty
- Mouth sores
- Pain and paraesthesia are late symptoms.
New Oral Cancer Detection Devices
Early detection is critical when it comes to oral cancer. Thankfully, there are many devices being developed to aid in early detection. Below is a list of devices that are on the market today.
- Brush biopsy
- ViziLite Plus, MicroLux DL
- Trimira OCS 3000
Your dentist can tell you which device he has and explain the process to you. Your dentist should also conduct the standard visual inspection as well.