Oral Cancer Screening

Oral Cancer Facts

Rates of occurrence in the United States

Close to 48,250 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. It will cause over 9,575 deaths, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day. Of those 48,250 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half will be alive in 5 years. (Approximately 57%) This is a number which has not significantly improved in decades. (The survival number at 5 years from diagnosis was for many decades about 50%, so 57% is an improvement over the last ten years. However this is due to the increase of HPV16 caused cancers which are more vulnerable to existing treatment modalities, conferring a significant survival advantage. So a change in the etiology, not improved early discovery or treatments; which are relatively unchanged from a decade ago, are not the sole cause for improvement.)

The death rate for oral cancer is higher than that of cancers which we hear about routinely such as cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, laryngeal cancer, cancer of the testes, and endocrine system cancers such as thyroid. If you expand the definition of oral and oropharyngeal cancers to include cancer of the larynx, the numbers of diagnosed cases grow to approximately 54,000 individuals, and 13,500 deaths per year in the U.S. alone. Worldwide the problem is much greater, with over 450,000 new cases being found each year. Note that the world incidence numbers from the WHO, while the best available, are estimates that users should consider with caveats. Data collection and reporting in some countries is problematic in spite of the professional efforts of the WHO to be accurate.

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