Oral Cancer 1Did you know that April 14th through the 20th is National Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week? Providing a comprehensive extra and intra-oral exam for every patient aged 14 and older once a year is the standard of care! Statistics reveal intra-oral cancer is on the rise and typically diagnosed in advanced stages.

Oral Cancer Statistics:

In 2014, for the 8th year in a row, there was an increase in the rate of occurrence of intra-oral cancer. In 2007 alone, there was an 11 percent jump. Below are some startling statistics about oral cancer:

  • 43,250 new cases in 2014, about 118/day
  • 90 percent squamous cell carcinomas
  • 30 percent begin in the tongue
  • 17 percent in the lip
  • 14 percent in the floor of the mouth
  • More than 8000 will die, 1 person/hour, 24 hours/day
  • Only 57 percent will be alive in 5 years. Survivors often endure major functional, cosmetic and psychological burdens due to dysfunction or loss of the ability to speak, swallow, breathe and chew.
  • 80-90 percent survival with early diagnosis/treatment
  • Survivors have 20 times higher risk of developing a second cancer
  • $3.2 billion spent each year on treatment
  • About 85 percent of cancers in the group known as head and neck cancers, begin in the oral cavity. Brain cancer is not included as it is a category unto itself.

I hope by now you are asking yourself what you can do to be part of the change. Begin today! Start providing an intra and extra oral exam for every patient at least once a year. For those patients with a history of cancer, providing an intra and extra oral exam at every visit is very appropriate. For an example of a comprehensive extra and intra oral exam, view the “Best Ever Hygiene Exam” training video in the Spear Online Library. Sources: World Health Organization Oral Cancer Foundation

Kim Miller, RDH, BSDH, is Contributing Author for Spear Education.  


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