Did you know that every hour of every day someone dies from oral cancer? Because oral cancer is often found in the advanced stages, this disease has a low survival rate. Approximately 400,000 people worldwide are diagnosed with oral cancer, and only about half will still be alive in five years. Sometimes a biopsy is required to look at the lesion on a cellular level to gather more information. A cancer screening is done routinely since cancer can develop at any time. Understanding basic facts and debunking common myths can help you preserve your oral health and protect your life.
Myth: Only people with known risk factors get oral cancer.
Although lifestyle choices, age, and gender can increase your chances of developing oral cancer, about 25 percent of oral cancer patients have no identifiable risks.
Fact: Early detection can save your life.
When patients are diagnosed before the cancer advances, the cure rate is 90 percent. Often, people don’t notice the symptoms, so the disease progresses. Unfortunately, cancer can have disfiguring effects on patients as well as compromise their quality of life as they fight cancer.
Myth: Dental checkups are not important for detecting cancer.
Because the initial signs of cancer can be mild, like a lesion that doesn’t heal or a sore throat, you may not recognize a problem. Your dentist will examine your whole mouth and look for anything unusual. If necessary, the doctor may recommend further testing to rule out oral cancer.
Fact: Smoking and alcohol consumption substantially impact cancer risks.
In combination with heavy alcohol consumption, more than 30 drinks a week, smoking is increases the odds of developing oral cancer by 75 percent. If you smoke more than one pack a day, you have 24 times the risk for oral cancer.