Oral cancer is the largest group of cancers which fall into the head and neck cancer category. Common names for it include mouth cancer, tongue cancer, tonsil cancer, and throat cancer. While some think this is a rare cancer, mouth cancer will be newly diagnosed in about 100 individuals each day in the US alone, and a person dies from oral cancer every hour of every day.There are two distinct pathways by which most people come to oral cancer. One is through the use of tobacco and alcohol, a long term historic problem and cause, and the other is through exposure to the HPV-16 virus (human papilloma virus version 16), an identified etiology, and the same one which is responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancers in women. When found at early stages of development, oral cancers have an 80 to 90 % survival rate. Unfortunately at this time, the majority are found as late stage cancers, and this accounts for the very high death rate of about 45% at five years from diagnosis, and high treatment related morbidity in survivors. Late stage diagnosis is not occurring because most of these cancers are hard to discover, it is because of a lack of public awareness.
During your routine visits and at the initial exam, oral cancer screenings are performed.