Dentists say, “Just as we’ve gotten used to annual PSA tests, mammograms and Pap smears, we should be getting annual oral cancer exams.”
* 25% of cases affect people with no known risk factors.
* Historically, 75% of cases were related to tobacco or alcohol use.
* Oral cancer is as common as leukemia and claims more lives than either melanoma or cervical cancer.
* The 5-year survival rate is only 57%, and the 10-year rate is under 50%.
* It’s horribly disfiguring and painful, unless it’s detected early.
* Sigmund Freud, Babe Ruth, John Gotti and President Grover Cleveland had it.
* Cigar smoking increased 250% from 1993 to 1998, and heavy cigar use is particularly associated with oral cancer development.
* Marijuana appears to cause oral cancer, particularly in younger patients.
* Sexually transmitted HPV is an additional cause of oral cancer; HPV strains have been implicated in half of oropharyngeal cancers; the CDC says nearly 25 million women are infected with some form of HPV.
* U.S. African-Americans and Caucasians, who have the highest oral cancer rates, are most likely to develop cancer of the tongue; those of Southeast Asian descent are more likely to develop the disease in the inner cheek; Filipino-American women have the highest incidence of cancer of the palate.