5 important facts about oral cancer
Oral cancer maybe not a publicized type of cancer as compared to others, but this condition is in fact equally serious and needs the same attention. Below are 5 important facts that you should know about oral cancer:
1. Mortality Rate in the United States
Nearly 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer every year. Around 20% of the cases results in death, killing roughly 1 person every hour. Of those newly diagnosed cases, only approximately 57% is believed to be alive in 5 years.
The mortality rate of oral cancer is higher than the more commonly diagnosed cancers. The death rate associated with oral cancer is high not because it is hard to diagnose and treat, but due to the fact that the cancer is discovered too late. By the time oral cancer is discovered, it may have already metastasized to another location and the primary tumor may have already invaded into local structures.
2. Oral Cancer Demographics
· Oral cancer typically affects people aged 40 and above, however it is also common among young people with a history of chewing tobacco.
· Oral cancer is more likely to be diagnosed in men, it has affected exactly 6 men for every 1 woman.
· It occurs twice as often in African populations over Caucasians
3. Oral Cancer Risk Factors
· Age (40 and above)
· Tobacco use (75% of those diagnosed have been tobacco users)
· Alcohol consumption
· Persistent oral viral infections (HPV16)
· Diet (those low in fruits and vegetables have high chance of oral cancer)
4. Possible Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer
· A reddish or white patch of tissue in the mouth
· A small indurated ulcer which may look like a canker sore
· Sore or discolored areas in the mouth, which do not heal within 2 weeks’ time
· A lump or mass inside the neck or mouth
· Pain or difficulty in swallowing
· Any wart-like masses
· Prolonged hoarseness
· Numbness in the facial/oral region
· Unilateral and persistent ear ache
5. Treatment of Oral Cancer
Treatment of oral cancer is typically a multidisciplinary approach. You will need a combination of surgeons, radiation and chemotherapy oncologists, nutritionists, different types of dental practitioners, and rehabilitation specialists.
Prior to treating the area, oral hygiene and health must first be addressed. Treatment usually involves chemotherapy with radiation and sometimes surgery.