Let’s talk ORAL CANCER.
‘Not to sound bleak but, the hard reality currently is that oral cancer is more prevalent than ever. In fact, Oral cancer due to HPV has increased 225% in the past three decades! Oral cancer is the 11th cause of cancer mortality.
Oral cancer, like any other cancer, is lethal when not identified and treated early on in it’s course and surprisingly survival rates for those with oral cancer has not changed over the last 30 years!
The disease is often identified at an advanced stage, significantly reducing the probability of successful treatment. Half of oral cancer patients die within 5 years of diagnosis. Early detection of the disease (stages I and II) is associated with a survival rate of 80% compared with only 20% of those with advanced disease (stages III and IV). But yet, most oral cancers are still detected in late stages, when treatment is complex, costly, often disfiguring and marked by poor outcome.
It is well known that oral cancer is strongly associated with tobacco and alcohol consumption, together responsible for about 75% of oral cancers. When these 2 factors are combined, the risk is multiplied. A more recent critical risk factor for oral cancer is: THE HUMAN PAPILLOMAVIRUS, which has over 170 strains with 70% of HPV-16 or -18 is associated with cervical cancer. It is spread through sexual contact and accounts for 25% of the cancers of the mouth and oropharynx (upper throat). HPV is linked to the increase in oral cancer in nonsmokers. Young people are exposed to this as they become sexually active.
Most recently Michael Douglas comes to mind as he was diagnosed with Oral cancer caused by HPV in stage 4 and part of why someone with his access to the best healthcare got diagnosed in stage 4 was that many of his physicians didn’t look for oral cancer and they assumed that it was an infection of his gum behind his wisdom tooth area. It infact it took 3 attempts of tests during him being on several other treatments until a Canadian Physician looked down his throat and detected oral cancer from HPV.