Dispelling the Myths about Oral Cancer
Posted on Monday, April 08, 2019
- I cannot get oral cancer. I don’t smoke nor drink.
- Oral cancer is a rare disease so my chances of getting it are very small.
- I have full dentures. I don’t need to go to the dentist regularly.
- Oral cancer is for older people. I am young so I do not need to worry about it now.
- If I should be diagnosed with oral cancer, it will be easily treated and I will be cured.
Truths:Oral cancer is a very common disease affecting over 48,000 people in the United States alone, and this number continues to grow exponentially. Every 60 minutes of every day someone in the U.S. dies from oral cancer. It is literally becoming an out-of-control epidemic.
The biggest concern is that two-thirds of all oral cancers are detected at a late stage of the disease, making the average survival rate 50 percent at five years. This overall oral cancer survival rate is worse than almost all cancers that are commonly known.
The goal is to detect early cancer changes in the head, neck, and inside of the mouth. This is accomplished through routine oral cancer screening by a dentist for everyone 16 years and older, teeth or no teeth. The earlier oral cancer is detected, the better the chances for limited surgery intervention and a much longer survival rate.
The most important change in the last ten years is the link between oral cancers and the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV). The incidences of oral cancers at the age of 30 or younger have spiked due to the spread of HPV. If a person has never used tobacco nor had a drink of alcohol, the risk of oral cancer is still high if they have had repeated exposure to HPV.