Is oral cancer serious?

Yes. The most common form of oral cancer is squamous cell carcinoma which is known to metastasize and cause death. There are other types of cancers that are known to metastasize to the mouth.

The things known to increase risk of oral cancer are smoking and alcohol.
Oral cancer can be serious, especially if not caught early. Oral cancer strikes an estimated 34,360 Americans each year. On average, only half of those diagnosed with the disease will survive more than five years. Oral Cancer often starts as a tiny, unnoticed white or red spot or sore anywhere in the mouth, then leads to pain, bleeding, difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue. Those who use tobacco products are at an increased risk for the disease. Oral cancer screening is a routine part of a dental examination. Regular check-ups, including an examination of the entire mouth, are essential in the early detection of cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions.
Oral cancer is serious. On average, only half of those diagnosed with late stage oral cancer survive for more than five years. More than a quarter of the people diagnosed with oral cancer will die from the disease. However, as with many cancers, early detection increases the chances of successful, life-saving treatment. The five-year survival rate for oral cancer that is confined to one spot in your mouth is greater than 80%. Your dentist can detect oral cancer in its earliest stages, and can often find pre-cancerous cells and remove them before they have a chance to become cancerous. If you have a sore that won’t heal, or red or white patches or spots in your mouth, see your dentist as soon as possible.
The short answer to the question is: yes, oral cancer like any other cancer is a serious disease. However, there are a lot of factors that go into the course of the disease such as where the cancer is located; how big the cancer is; has the cancer spread to other organs; and whether there are risk factors such as alcohol and/or tobacco use.
Oral cancer can be very serious -- approximately 25 percent of cases are fatal and many others result in permanent facial disfigurement. If you are worried about oral cancer, you should ask your dentist to screen you for oral cancer. The earlier the cancerous growth is found, the better your chance for survival.

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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.