Oral Cancer Facts and Figures

As you may know from last week's post, April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month.  And as you surely know if you are one of our patients, Dr. Powell and Dr. Tiller perform an oral cancer screening on all of our patients every 6 months when you come in for your continuing care.

In honor of Oral Cancer Awareness Month, we want to make sure all your friends and loved ones are getting screened.  Help us spread the word!  For every new patient you refer to us this month or even for any review of our office on Google, Facebook, Yelp or elsewhere (to help send people you don't even know), or even just sharing this or any other oral cancer screening post on your Facebook this month, we are donating $5 to the Oral Cancer Foundation.  It's a win/win because more people will know that Powell & Tiller Dental Care is committed to early screening for this disease and more money will go toward treating it.

Oral cancer is largely viewed as a disease that affects those over the age of 40, but it can affect all ages, even non-tobacco and alcohol users. Oral cancer can occur on the lips, gums, tongue, inside lining of the cheeks, roof of the mouth, and the floor of the mouth. Our team at Powell & Tiller Dental Care put together some facts and figures to illustrate the importance of regular screenings.

Our friends at the American Cancer Society recommend an oral cancer screening exam every three years for people over the age of 20 and annually for those over age 40. Because early detection can improve the chance of successful treatment, we perform them every 6 months on everyone at their routine continuing care exam.

  • In most cases a patient is not aware that they have oral cancer.  Oral cancer is particularly deadly because it rarely leads to symptoms until it is fairly advanced.  It is often not diagnosed until the cancer has already metastasized to another location in their bodies.  Once any cancer has metastasized, survival rates decrease dramatically.
  • The primary known risk factors for oral cancer in American men and women are tobacco (including smokeless tobacco), alcohol use, and most recently a certain strain of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV16). Your risk is 15 times larger if you smoke AND drink.
  • Oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer among men.
  • Oral cancer is more likely to affect people over 40 years of age, though an increasing number of young people are developing the condition due to the increase in the prevalence of HPV.
  • Close to 49,750 Americans will be diagnosed with oral oropharyngeal cancer this year. It will cause over 9,750 deaths, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day. Of those 49,750 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half will be alive in 5 years. (Approximately 57%) according to the Oral Cancer Foundation.
  • According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, historically the death rate associated with this cancer is particularly high not because it is hard to discover or diagnose, but due to the cancer being routinely discovered late in its development, as there is not a comprehensive program in the US to opportunistically screen for the disease, and without that; late stage discovery is more common. Having said that, those who routinely see the dentist should be screened on a regular schedule and certainly if you come to Powell & Tiller Dental Care, we will ensure that you are.
  • It is estimated that approximately $3.2 billion is spent in the United States annually on treatment of head and neck cancers.

Cancer can affect any part of the oral cavity, including the lip, tongue, mouth, and throat. Through visual inspection and touch, Dr. Juli Powell and Dr. Ada Tiller and our team at Powell & Tiller Dental Care can often detect premalignant abnormalities and cancer at an early stage, when treatment is both less extensive and more successful.

Contact us today if you are overdue for your exam.

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