One American dies every hour from oral cancer. Late detection of oral cancer is the primary cause that both the incidence and mortality rates of oral cancer continue to increase. It is one of the few types of cancer that has not seen a significant reduction in incidence over the past thirty years, and recent research has shown a strong association with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which can be sexually transmitted. For this reason, many oral health care professionals now believe that all individuals over the age of 18 should have at least an annual oral examination. While, age, tobacco and alcohol use are risk factors for oral cancer, more than 25% of oral cancer victims have no lifestyle risk factors.
Early detection of precancerous tissue can minimize or eliminate the potentially disfiguring effects of oral cancer and possibly save your life.
Unlike several other cancers, the survival rate for oral cancer has remained unchanged for decades. The overall 5-year survival rate for oral cancer is 52%, but when discovered early, it increases to 80% – 90%
Unfortunately, only 35% of oral cancer cases are diagnosed in the early stages. Why? Because there have been few advances made in screening techniques and there are significant limitations inherent to white light and chemiluminescence light examination of the oral mucosa.
Pre-malignant changes actually start below the surface, at the basement membrane. These changes may not be apparent to the naked eye until the disease progresses to the surface. The exam is very affordable and may be covered under some insurance policies.