The Oral Cancer Foundation tells us that, "Close to 49,750 Americans will be diagnosed with oral oropharynegeal cancer this year. It will cause over 9,750 deaths, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day. Of those 49,750 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half will be alive in 5 years. (Approximately 57%)."
These statistics are mind boggling, as dental professionals I encourage all of us to make sure we do everything we can to help with early detection. Being sure to perform an oral cancer screening at each dental appointment, and informing patients about risk factors that include not just tobacco and alcohol, but also HPV. The high death rate associated with this cancer is not the result of a poor diagnosis. It generally is a result of late diagnosis. Early screening is the life-saving difference. We are the only profession looking for this deadly cancer. Your general practice MD isn't looking, your eye doctor isn't looking, your OB-GYN isn't looking, this is OUR cancer. We must screen for early detection.
Oral Cancer is a part of a larger group referred to as head and neck cancers, have you ever treated someone who was undergoing chemotherapy and radiation to these areas? The treatment can often feel worse than the cancer itself. Their mouths become increasingly dry, and just taking a sip of water can be difficult. Speaking becomes such a painful experience that many avoid it at all costs. These side effects are just from the radiation. When chemotherapy gets introduced, painful ulcers can appear in the mouth. This can happen with chemo for any type of cancer, not just oral cancer.
Comfort for cancer patients is essential in the battle against this disease. Having something that can help with the side effects of treatment is one of the best options that we can offer patients once they are diagnosed. Many cancer centers are beginning to carry OraCare to help maintain a better quality and provide comfort of life during this difficult time. Listen to cancer survivor Eva Grayzel tell her story about her battle with Oral Cancer.