Fact, 43,250 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year.  This form of cancer will take 8000 lives in 2014 alone.  And only slightly more than  half will be alive in 5 years.  The death rate for oral cancer is higher than cancers we commonly hear about mainly because it is routinely discovered late in its development. Often oral cancer  is detected  when it has metastasized to another area of the body, specifically the lymph nodes of the neck.

The demographics for those who develop oral cancer include men, who are at a two to one higher risk, and usually over the age of 40.  Smoking tobacco products is a high risk factor in this age group.  But younger adults are now being diagnosed with oral cancer due to their increased use of smokeless or chewing tobacco and  the advent of Human Papillomavirus 16 (HPV16).  Research now shows us that this virus is sexually transmitted between partners and is a contributing factor to the increase incidence of oral cancer in the younger, non smoking,  population.   HPV16 is linked to higher rates of cancer in the tonsil area, and oropharynx.  Many times these areas of the mouth do not produce visible lesions or discolorations that are early warning signs.

Oral cancer awareness has been brought to light through celebrities having disclosed their diagnosis.  Notably, actor Michael Douglas and film critic Roger Ebert were diagnosed.  Roger passed away in April of 2013.

Dentists are now at the front line of helping patients with early detection.  Periodic oral exams which may include proven fluorescence technology help aid in early detection. Also, if an  area is suspicious, a biopsy will help in diagnosis. It is important to have a diagnosis as early as possible.    As always, if you have any questions feel free to give us a call at Dental Wellness at Dry Creek.  You can reach us at 303-773-9400. Or, you can email me, Dr. DiLizia personally at [email protected]