How serious is oral cancer?

The most common type of oral cancer is squamous cell carcinoma which is known to metastasize and cause death. Just like any other cancers, the earlier it is treated the better the prognosis.

Significant risk factors include smoking and alcohol.
Oral cancer can be very serious but regular visits to your dentist can improve the chances that any suspicious changes in your oral health will be caught early, at a time when cancer can be treated more easily. During your dental visit, your dentist can talk to you about your health history and examine these areas for signs of mouth and/or throat cancer.

The symptoms of mouth or throat cancer can include:
  • sores that bleed easily or do not heal
  • a thick or hard spot or lump
  • a roughened or crusted area
  • numbness, pain or tenderness
  • a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite down
The National Cancer Institute estimates that about 40,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with mouth or throat cancer in 2012.
Oral cancer, which usually forms on the lips, tongue, or other areas around the mouth, is a serious condition. More than 7,500 people die from the disease each year. However, it doesn't have to be life-threatening; when diagnosed and treated early, the survival rate is good.

Oral cancer can be treated or even cured with surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. Dentists detect oral cancer during regular office visits by checking for sores or ulcers inside your mouth.

One person every hour of every day dies of Oral Cancer in America. It has become the sixth leading cancer among men and is one of the few cancers in which the rate of detection is increasing among young adults. Most people are not aware of the potential risks; however, when detected early enough, the survival rate for oral cancer is very high.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.