Every hour, 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year, someone dies of oral or oropharyngeal cancer (cancer of the back of the oral cavity and upper throat). Yet if oral cancer is detected and treated early, treatment-related health problems are reduced, and survival rates may increase.
This year an estimated 54,000 new cases of oral cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. Of those individuals, 43 percent will not survive longer than five years, and many who do survive suffer long-term problems, such as severe facial disfigurement or difficulties with eating and speaking. The death rate associated with oral and oropharyngeal cancers remains particularly high because the cancers routinely are discovered late in their development.
Signs and symptoms of oral cancer which is predominantly caused by tobacco usage and/or excessive alcohol usage may include one or more of the following:
- Any sore or ulceration that does not heal within 14 days.
- A red, white, or black discoloration of the soft tissues of the mouth.
- Any abnormality that bleeds easily when touched (friable).
- A lump or hard spot in the tissue, usually border of the tongue (induration).
- Tissue raised above that which surrounds it; a growth (exophytic).
- A sore under a denture, which even after adjustment of the denture, does not heal.
- A lump or thickening that develops in the mouth.
- A painless, firm, fixated lump felt on the outside of the neck, which has been there for at least two weeks.
- All the above symptoms have the commonality of being persistent and not resolving.
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