Oral cancer risks were once very predictable. Over 95% of all cases were from tobacco use, either smoked or smokeless and/or alcohol usage. The majority of these cases were found in patients over 50 years old with men afflicted more than women. A small population of cases outside of these risk factors were, for the most part, of unknown etiology. This old standard has rapidly changed in recent years.
With the continued decrease in smoking in the United States it is surprising to see a nearly fivefold increase in oral cancer patients under the age of 40.
This non-smoking population of men and women in their 20’ and 30’s are the fastest growing population of oral cancer patients. The explanation for this increase is the rapid increase in the occurrence and spread of HPV (Human Papillomavirus), which is spread through oral sex.
25% of all oral cancer victims are non-smokers, non-drinkers, and have no other lifestyle risk factors…
Are you at risk for oral cancer?
It is imperative that a thorough medical history is obtained to help determine all possible risk factors. Tobacco and alcohol lesions tend to occur in the anterior of the mouth and tongue while HPV lesions are more prominent in the posterior of the oral cavity.
- Patients age 40, or older (95% of all cases.)
- 18-39 years of age, combined with the following:
– Tobacco use
– Chronic alcohol consumption
– Oral HPV Infection
- Patients age 65 and older with lifestyle risk factors
- Patients with history of oral cancer
Oral Cancer Symptoms
Like most cancers, early detection is paramount for successful treatment. Being aware of the early signs and symptoms along with periodic professional exams help facilitate early diagnosis.
Your dentist has access to your oral cavity on a regular basis and is trained in detecting the signs of oral cancer. 75% of all head and neck cancer originates in the oral cavity, with 30% of these originating on the tongue. Read more about oral cancer symptoms …
Also, see American Dental Association Statement on Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Squamous Cell Cancers of the Oropharynx.
Oral Cancer Facts
- Twenty-five percent of all oral cancer victims are non-smokers, non-drinkers and have no other lifestyle risk factors.
- In the U.S., one person dies from oral cancer every hour. In Canada, three people die from oral cancer every day. In India, it is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths.
- Research from Johns Hopkins Hospital and other medical institutions suggests that the human Papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted virus, is associated with oral cancers located in the upper throat and back of the tongue.
- According to the American Cancer Society, oral cancer affects more than 35,000 people in the U.S. each year.
- Oral cancer causes 7,500 deaths each year and only slightly more than half of oral cancer patients survive five years. –
- Seventy percent of oral cancer cases are diagnosed at a late stage, which partially accounts for the poor five-year survival rate of approximately 60 percent.
- The five-year survival rate for patients who have localized disease at diagnosis is 82 percent compared with only 28 percent for patients whose disease has metastasized.
- The National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results program (SEER) and the Oral Cancer Foundation report that approximately 100 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with oral cancer every day.
Visit Oral Cancer Foundation for more information.