As Mouth Cancer Awareness Month unfolds, it's essential to shed light on this often underestimated yet significant health concern. Oral cancer affects thousands each year, making awareness and early detection crucial for saving lives.
Our team strives to help patients of all ages achieve optimal oral health, part of which includes oral cancer screenings and patient education. In this blog, we'll uncover lesser-known facts about oral cancer, backed by credible sources, to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of this condition.
Fact 1: The Rising Incidence Rates
The American Cancer Society reports that oral and oropharyngeal cancers have been on the rise in recent years. In 2021, an estimated 54,010 new cases were expected in the United States alone. This upward trend emphasizes the need for regular screenings and early intervention.
Fact 2: Younger Individuals Are at Risk
While traditionally considered a disease affecting older individuals, oral cancer is increasingly prevalent among younger populations. This shift is not because younger people are using more tobacco products but is attributed to the rise in HPV-related oral cancers. The Oral Cancer Foundation reports that “the fastest-growing segment of the oral cancer population is non-smokers under the age of fifty.”
Fact 3: HPV and Oral Cancer
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a leading cause of oral cancers. It's estimated that HPV16, a specific strain of the virus, is responsible for nearly 70% of all oropharyngeal cancers. This fact underscores the need for both widespread HPV vaccination and regular screenings to detect early signs of oral cancer.
It is essential that those who have been diagnosed with HPV visit the dentist every six months for dental check-ups and oral cancer screenings.
Fact 4: Alarming Survival Rates
Tragically, the survival rates for oral cancer have not significantly improved over the past several decades. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the overall 5-year survival rate is approximately 60%. Early detection significantly improves these odds, highlighting the importance of prevention and routine screenings.
Fact 5: Disparities in Diagnosis and Mortality Rates
There exist disparities in the diagnosis and mortality rates of oral cancer among different demographic groups. The American Cancer Society notes that certain racial and ethnic groups face higher risks and lower survival rates. Factors such as access to healthcare, socioeconomic status, and awareness levels contribute to these disparities.
Fact 6: Oral Cancer's Impact on Quality of Life
Oral cancer treatments, which may include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, can have a profound impact on a person's quality of life. Speech and swallowing difficulties, as well as changes in appearance, can be emotionally and physically challenging. For these reasons, and many more, oral cancer patients must have access to comprehensive support and rehabilitation.
Fact 7: The Role of Dentists in Early Detection
Dentists play a pivotal role in the early detection of oral cancer. During routine check-ups, they perform thorough oral exams, checking for any abnormalities or suspicious lesions. Early intervention can significantly improve treatment outcomes, making regular dental visits a vital component of oral cancer prevention.
Fact 8: The Importance of Self-Examinations
Self-awareness is a powerful tool in the fight against oral cancer. Performing regular self-examinations can help detect any unusual changes in your mouth or throat. The Oral Cancer Foundation provides comprehensive resources on how to conduct these examinations, empowering individuals to take charge of their own health.
We’re happy to teach our patients how they can perform an oral cancer self-examination at home and what they should be looking for!
Fight Oral Cancer With Us
Mouth Cancer Awareness Month serves as a crucial reminder that knowledge is our most potent weapon against oral cancer. By understanding the lesser-known facts surrounding this condition, we can take proactive steps toward prevention, early detection, and improved treatment outcomes.
Remember, our dental team is your ally in this battle, and routine screenings can be life-saving. If it’s been longer than six months since your last dental check-up, contact our dental team today to schedule an appointment! Together, let's work towards a future where oral cancer is a thing of the past.