Approximately 36,540 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx in 2012. During the same time period 7,880 Americans will die of oral cancer.
- Found early, while still Localized (confined to the primary site), oral cancer’s five-year survival rate is good: about 83%. Only 33% of all oral cancer discoveries fall into this category.
- Found while Regional (progressed to regional lymph nodes) the five-year survival rate drops significantly, to about 55%. Approximately 46% of all oral cancer discoveries are Regional.
- Found late, oral cancer’s five-year survival rate is poor: approximately 32%. This accounts for approximately 14% of all oral cancer findings.
Clearly, finding oral cancer in its early stages is key to survival. Routine VELscope examinations can improve the morbidity and mortality of oral-cancer, because the VELscope system assists in early detection, potentially saving lives through less invasive, more effective treatment.
HPV — Changing the Demographics of Oral Cancer
The face of oral cancer is changing. Predominantly a disease where major risk factors of smoking, smokeless tobacco use, heavy alcohol use as well other genetic risk factors, an increasing body of evidence points to a strong link between particular strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV, most notably strain 16) and a certain type of oral cancer that occurs in the oropharynx. HPV 16 is the same strain associated with almost all cervical cancer. Many experts now recommend that all adult patients over the age of 18 receive a thorough intra- and extra-oral head and neck exam annually.