WHAT IS ORAL CANCER?

Alarming if not shocking statistics:

  • Approximately 35,310 people in the US will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer in 2009;
  • The incidence rate for oral cancer is 3 TIMES GREATER than cervical cancer in the US;
  • Exposure to the HPV-16 virus (human papillomavirus) is the fasted growing risk factor for oral cancer;
  • 90% of oral cancer occurs in patients 45 years or older, which encompasses "all" 84M Baby Boomers;
  • An estimated 7,550 oral cancer patients died in 2007 (5180 men 2370 women);
  • Men above the age of 45 and elderly patients have the highest risk of developing oral cancer;
  • Men of African ancestry have an especially high risk in every age group;
  • 90% of oral cancers are "Squamous Cell Carcinomas"
  • Over 40% of those diagnosed will die within five years;
    • The mortality rate associated with oral cancer has not improved significantly in the last 40 years;
  • A person dies from oral cancer every hour;
  • The high mortality rate associated with oral cancer is due to late stage diagnosis

The Need for Early Screening and Detection for Early Intervention -

 When diagnosed early, oral cancer patients have an 80 to 90% survival rate. Unfortunately 40% of those diagnosed with oral cancer will die within five years because the majority of these cases will be discovered as a late stage malignancy.

 Oral cancer is particularly dangerous, because the patient may not notice it in its early stages. It can frequently prosper without producing pain or symptoms or masquerade as symptoms of other conditions relating oral health other than oral cancer. As a result, oral cancer often goes undetected to the point of metastasizing.

What is needed:

  • Accurate and early detection specific for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma;

  • Easy-to-use screening solution (such as existing elective periodontal disease screening tests) with minimal disruption for dental office business practice; and

  • Cost effective pricing such that adopting the tests do not outweigh the benefits of screening all at risk individuals.


 In addition to the health benefits for screening for earlier detection and intervention, early detection and treatment represents a potential 81% in costs savings versus detection and treatment of a later staged oral cancer. Thus, earlier detection and treatment may ease the economic burden currently impacting the health care system for treatment of oral cancer.

References: American Cancer Society
 Oral Cancer Foundation
 National Cancer Institute




For more information, please visit the following sites:

American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
American Dental Association
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
National Institute of Health
National Cancer Instiute
The Oral Cancer Foundation
The Oral Cancer Consortium
The Mouth Cancer Foundation
Fight Oral Cancer Foundation
Oral Cancer Awareness