The term oral cancer includes cancers of the mouth and the pharynx, part of the throat. About two-thirds of oral cancers occur in the mouth and about one-third are found in the pharynx. Below are facts from the USA but Canada is similar.
- Oral cancer kills one American every hour of every day.
- Oral cancer strikes 3 times as many victims as cervical cancer and is as common as leukemia.
- Oral cancer claims more lives than melanoma (skin cancer).
- Two-thirds of oral cancer cases are detected in late stages
- When detected in late stages, the 5-year survival rate is only 22%
- When detected in early stages, the survival rate can be 80% or higher
- Even if you don’t use tobacco, you may still be at risk for oral cancer
- Studies have linked oral cancer to exposure to the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV-16) which means that everyone, men and women from the age of 18 years old and up needs to be screened annually for oral cancer. It is now believed that 25-30% of oral cancer is linked to the human papilloma virus.
- The death rate for oral cancer is higher than that of cancers which we hear about routinely such as cervical cancer, leukemia, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, laryngeal cancer, cancer of the testes, and endocrine system cancers such as thyroid, or skin cancer (malignant melanoma).
Incidence and Mortality
- Oral cancer strikes an estimated 34,360 Americans each year. An estimated 7,550 people (5,180 men and 2,370 women) will die of these cancers in 2007.
- More than 25% of the 30,000 Americans who get oral cancer will die of the disease.
- Oral cancer is as common as leukemia and claims more lives that either melanoma or cervical cancer.
- On average, only half of those diagnosed with the disease will survive more than five years.
- The sad news is that oral cancer is one of the few cancers whose incidence has gone up over the last 30 years as opposed to other cancers which have effective screening technologies which have reduced their incidence. With new oral cancer screening technologies, we can immediately start to turn the tide of this dreaded disease.
The Deadly Statistics
- Every hour of every day, one American dies of oral cancer.
- The mortality rate associated with oral cancer has not improved significantly in the last 40 years.
- More than 30,000 Americans will receive an oral cancer diagnosis this year. In five years, less than 57% will still be alive.
- 8,000 Americans will die each year of oral cancer. Oral cancer is far too often detected in late stage development -- the primary reason for the high death rate. Oral cancer can have potentially disfiguring effects on patients, seriously compromising their quality of life. Early detection of abnormalities can make a large difference in life expectancy; oral cancer is 90% curable when found early. Unfortunately, 70% of oral cancers are diagnosed in the late stages, and 43% of those diagnosed will die within five years.
- The American Cancer Society projects that almost as many women will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year as they will be with cervical cancer (approximately 10,000).
- There are almost as many cases of HPV-related oral cancer as cases of HPV-related cervical cancer.