This April, the country observes Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and many dental and medical organizations join the non-profit Oral Cancer Foundation in this effort. As this specific type of cancer is usually discovered late in its development, it is a top priority to understand the importance of prevention and education.

What is oral cancer?

When dangerous cells grow uncontrollably and develop into tumors in the mouth of the upper throat, it is called oral cancer because it refers to the oral cavity. It includes the surface of the tongue, the tonsils at the back of the mouth, the pharynx, the lips, the gums, or the roof of the mouth (palate).

According to the American Cancer Society, there will be an estimated 54,540 new cases of oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer in the United States, and there will be 11,580 fatalities attributed to this disease. Equating to about one person every hour dying because of oral and pharyngeal cancer complications.
Only 60% of people diagnosed with mouth and upper throat cancer will live longer than five years. Oral cancer can be curable; however, many survivors will experience long-term complications like difficulties in eating or speaking or severe facial disfigurement.

Symptoms of oral cancer

  • Lasting sore throat

  • Lumps on the outside of the neck
  • A persistent cough
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Lasting earaches

  • Patches on your tongue

oral cancer symptoms

Risk Factors

Most of us are aware of the relationship between smoking and lung cancer, but it is essential to acknowledge that tobacco products can also lead to mouth or throat cancer.

The sexually transmitted human papillomavirus virus (HPV) also increases the risk of developing oropharyngeal cancer. Almost all HPV oral infections will clear on their own, but some patients’ immune systems could be compromised and cause cancer.

Exposure to this infection is widespread since 42 million Americans are infected with HPV. 13 million teens are affected yearly (CDC). That’s why it is crucial to educate and promote awareness about it.

Help spread the word

Early detection of oral cancer can diminish the odds of spreading and increase the chances of survival. Therefore, the observance of this month should emphasize the importance of screening as a vital part of the dental examination routine. Besides, the HPV vaccination is an effective and safe way to decrease the risk of HPV-related cancers.

At Ascend Hospice Care, we encourage our community to keep special attention to their oral health. At the same time, this month is an excellent reminder that the chances for a better outcome are increased when cancer is detected and treated early

oral cancer

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