Less than 25% of the national population gets annual screenings for oral cancer. Yet these cancers are some of the easiest to stop in their initial stages. People seldom think of cancer in the mouth. Most cancer concerns are limited to other parts of the body. Unfortunately, oral pathology will be diagnosed in about 50,000 people this year. It will also cause nearly 10,000 deaths or roughly one person an hour every 24 hours, each day.
The Numbers Remain the Same
Statistics for oropharyngeal cancer have been studied for years and the sad news is that the numbers have not changed much in decades. The slight increase in survival rates (57% of newly diagnosed individuals will live longer than five years, up 7% from 10 years ago) is due to the treatment of other cancers and not too early diagnosis of oral pathology.
A Better Outcome for Oral Pathology
Like other pathologies, early detection means a better outcome. When patients get their annual dental checkups if the dentist doesn’t automatically conduct a cancer screening, they should inquire about getting one.
The oral cancer screening is a painless exam that only lasts a few minutes. The dentist checks the soft tissues of the mouth and the neck for lumps, lesions or other signs of oral pathology. If there is a questionable area the dentist may choose to do a biopsy. A small piece of the tissue under question will be removed and sent to a lab to be studied and tested for abnormal or cancerous cells.
Fortunately, when oral cancers are detected early the outcome is more positive. Most oral pathology is not discovered until it has already reached the later stages of development.
People Most at Risk for Oral Pathology
Although it can happen to anyone, those most susceptible to oral cancers are those who use tobacco. This includes smoking, chewing, snuff, cigars, and pipes. People who drink excessive amounts of alcohol are also at risk. Prolonged sun exposure can also cause problems with the lips.
The dental professionals at Katy Cypress Oral Surgery are skilled in identifying oral pathology. If you have not had an oral cancer screening, let us know and we will perform one for you. Early detection can save your life.