On Saturday I was asked to be the keynote speaker at an oral cancer awareness event. You should probably know that April is oral cancer awareness month. It was an honor to be asked to speak. Most of those in attendance were dental students and their families. I hope that I impressed upon them the importance of carefully screening their patients for oral cancer and testing anything that looks suspicious if it doesn't resolve within two weeks. In my case early detection by my wife and a wonderful oral surgeon who decided to take a CT scan instead of wait and watch probably saved my life. I will always be grateful.
Facts that you may not know. Almost all forms of cancer have improved in their survival rates over the past 30 years, but not oral cancer. Currently the survival rate for oral cancer remains at about 60%, the same as it was 30 years ago.
When oral cancer is detected early it has a 90% survival rate
When oral cancer is detected late it has a 20% survival rate.
Oral cancer rates are climbing at an alarming rate. This is primarily due to the HPV virus, (human papilloma virus.) These rates are climbing especially among young people and are directly linked to sexual behaviors.
As dentists we can do a better job at finding cancers early and testing all suspicious lesions.