One person every hour of every day dies from oral cancer, which is equivalent to over 8000 people a year in The United States alone, according to the American Cancer Society. About 30,000 new cases of oral cancer will be diagnosed this year. Oral cancer ranks as the sixth most common form of cancer that can affect any part of the mouth or lips. The good news is that when detected early, the chances for beating it are greatly increased. But left untreated, oral cancer can spread within the mouth and throughout the body, leading to chronic pain, disfigurement, loss of the ability to eat or talk, and even death. This is why early detection and diagnosis is critical.
Smoking and chewing tobacco significantly increase your risk. The carcinogens in tobacco, alcohol, and certain foods are leading risk factors. In fact, if both tobacco and alcohol products are used, one is 15 times at greater risk for developing oral cancer. Exposure to the sun is also linked to oral cancer. Other risk factors are age, gender, and genetics. About 95% of all oral cancers are diagnosed in people 45 years or older. Men are twice as likely as women to develop oral cancer.