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                                                        DR. DAN PETERSON

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Facts you need to know about oral cancer

Under 30? Check for Oral Cancer!

Someone dies from oral cancer every hour in the U.S.

  Facts About Oral Cancer  
It is the 6th most common cancer

Fast Facts
Oral Cancer in the United States

2007 Estimates
New cases: 30,990
Deaths per year: 7,430
Five-year relative survival rate for localized stage: 82%
Five year relative survival for all stages combined: 59%

Movie About Oral Cancer

-       An estimated 30,200 new oral cancer cases will be diagnosed this year.
(20,000 will be men)

-    Although the percentage of deaths has been decreasing since 1980, nearly 8,000 Americans die annually from oral cancer.  

American Cancer Society recommends an yearly cancer related check-up for all people 40 years of age or older; and every 3 years for people between 20-39 years of age. **

-    Smoking in combination with heavy alcohol consumption (30+ drinks per week) is the primary (75%) risk factor for oral cancer. Heavy smokers (more than one pack a day) are at a 24 times higher risk for oral cancer.  Smoking cigarettes, cigars or pipes, or using chew or snuff tobacco are the greatest risk factors accounting for 80 to 90% of all oral cancers.  However 25% of all people diagnosed with oral cancer have none of these risk factors at all.

-    Oral cancer is more likely to strike after the age of 50 however there has been a significant increase in oral cancer in people under age 30.

-  25% of oral cancer patients do not have any of the signs of the risk factors for oral cancer.  This makes having a dental exam every 6 months a necessity to detect this cancer.  

-   Men's risk of being diagnosed with oral caner is twice that of women.

-   95% of oral cancer is diagnosed in people older than 45 years, with the median age of diagnosis is 64 years.

-  In the past 10 years there has been a considerable increase in the number of oral cancer patients under the age of 30 who have no identifiable risk factors of contracting he disease.

-  African American men oral cancer is the 4th leading cancer for their group.

Pictures of Oral Cancer

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-    It has one of the poorest 5 year survival rates.  Only 52% survive after 5 years of diagnoses.  Radiation can not cure it, it can help, along with chemotherapy.  Surgery has devastating results due to the loss of a part of one's tongue, jaw or roof of the mouth. 

-   Oral cancer affects 30,000 people a year. It is very disfiguring. It results in severe loss of oral function, chronic discomfort including difficulty in chewing, swallowing and speaking

-    Additional risk factors that may be linked to oral cancer include: smokeless tobacco use; regular, prolonged exposure to the sun (lip cancer).

-    Studies suggest that a diet high in fruits and vegetables may help prevent the development of oral cancer lesions.

-    Oral cancer can affect any area of the oral cavity including the lips, gum tissues, cheek lining, tongue, and the hard or soft palate.  The most frequent sites for cancer are the tongue, floor of the mouth, tissues in back of the tongue, lips and gums.

Mouth cancer kills one person every five hours.

-  Adults younger than 40 years of age are being diagnosed with higher rates of oral and tongue cancer.* 

-   This represents about 2.5 percent of cancer cases and 1.5 percent of all cancer-related deaths--a high rate considering the small size of the mouth in relation to the rest of the body

-  The five year survival rate with oral cancer is directly related to the stage at which the cancer is diagnosed, that is why early detection is so important.

-  It is important to visit your dentist twice a year to receive you oral screening examination of our mouth for the early signs of oral cancer.

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Detecting oral cancer in the very early stages is CRITICAL

Oral Cancer Self Test

-   Symptoms of oral cancer can include:

1) A sore that bleeds easily or does not heal in two weeks

2) A change in color of the oral tissues;

3) A lump, thickening, mass,  rough spot, crust or small eroded area;

4) Pain, tenderness, or numbness anywhere in the mouth or on the lips; teeth or jaw

5) Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue; or

6) A change in the way teeth fit together.  

7)  Swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly 

8) Voice changes

9) Tiny white or red spots

10) Weight loss

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Oral Cancer Slide Show Pictures

-   Regular visits to the dentist can increase the chance of early detection, which can improve the potential for successful treatment.  

-   Early detection of oral cancer  increases the chance that a person will be alive 5 years after diagnosis.  The 5 years survival rate is 81%!

-    However, only 35% of oral cancer is detected at the earliest stage.

Provided by ADA organization and Dentistry Today and NDA.

     * J.A.D.A. News, Vol 132, July 2001 pg 864.
** Journal of the Tennessee  Dental Association, Fall 2002, Dentistry Today pg 46, February 2003.


Reducing Your Risk For Oral Cancer
Stop or limit use of tobacco products, including cigarettes, pipes, cigars, and chewing tobacco
Consume alcoholic beverages in moderation
Protect your lips from excessive exposure to sunlight by using a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 12
Ensure that dentures fit properly and are not irritating the gums orcheeks

Slide show on how to check yourself for oral cancer:


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Oral Cancer Can Strike Anyone

About 30,000 Americans each year contract oral cancer, and 8,000 of them will die, but people remain ignorant of a disease that can be cured if caught in the early stages.

This is not a disease that strikes just old men anymore. Oral cancer can strike anyone, even people who don't smoke or drink, which are two of the risk factors.

Oral cancer once struck mainly men in their 60s, but the largest increase in cases now is seen in people under 40 years of age, and in women. The survival rate remains unchanged from 50 years ago -- about
50 percent for someone diagnosed with the disease in its later stages.

Women began developing oral cancer when smoking became chic. As a result, women have taken their place alongside their male counterparts in developing the diseases that are prevalent to tobacco
use.  Also women are drinking more openly now.

As for cases in people younger than 60, the causes remain a mystery,but some cases may be due to a sexual transmission of a virus. It can really strike at any age.

Five years ago, the lab developed a brush biopsy that enables dentists to scrape cells from a person's mouth, allowing them to catch oral cancer in its early stages. The procedure takes about one minute to
complete and requires no local anesthetic or sutures.

In its early stages, oral cancer is hard to detect. A person doesn't feel any pain and red and white bumps in a mouth that can be a precursor to oral cancer are commonplace.... 5 to 10
percent of all Americans have spots in their mouths, and the overwhelming majority are harmless.
There's no symptoms, no pain. They look like an ordinary-looking sorethat you might get from a pizza burn or biting your lip.

Treating oral cancer is expensive, costing more than $100,000 per person, surgery and chemotherapy are  the big expenses. Nationally, the cost of treating people who have oral cancer runs nearly $2 billion a year.

People should go to their dentists at least once a year for a screening.

Oral cancer now kills as many Americans as melanoma.

 The Associated PressBy DONNA DE LA CRUZ
Associated Press Writer November 2004

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More information see: Oral Cancer Resources

Support for People with Oral and Head and Neck Cancer

The Oral Health Education Foundation

Cancer of the Mouth and Throat

Oral Health, Cancer Care, and You Campaign

Oral Cancer Chart 4/07 Smart Practice

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February 06, 2008

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PLEASE NOTE: The information contained herein is intended for educational purposes only.  It is not intended and should not be construed as the delivery of dental/medical care and is not a substitute for personal hands on dental/medical attention, diagnosis or treatment.  Persons requiring diagnosis, treatment, or with specific questions are urged to contact your family dental/health care provider for appropriate care.
This site is privately and personally sponsored, funded and supported by Dr. Peterson.  We have no outside funding.
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