Cancer can affect any area of the body, including the mouth. Research estimates that around 49,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer every year. Of these, just 57% will survive for at least five years following their diagnosis. These are shocking statistics, but the relatively poor outcome of patients is primarily a result of late diagnosis.
Like all cancers, patients have a much better chance at recovering from oral cancer if it is diagnosed early on. However, in many cases, the signs of the disease are not spotted until they have advanced – often after it has metastasized to other areas of the body, such as the lymph nodes. Once any cancer has spread, it is much harder to treat it successfully.
Since the symptoms of oral cancer can be difficult to spot on yourself, visiting your dentist for regular oral cancer screenings is strongly recommended. In fact, many dentists now incorporate oral cancer screening into every routine check-up appointment.