Myths & Facts about Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is one of the most widespread types of cancer. It falls under the larger category of 'Oral, head and neck cancer'. Around 550,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed worldwide annually, amongst which 110,000 are from the United States of America (6% of all cancer cases in the U. S.). Due to the complexities involved in the disease, there are several myths being circulated around oral cancer. These myths need to be tackled with proper information about the disease in order to cure it efficiently.

Here are a few myths (and in turn, the facts) about oral cancer:

1. Oral cancer only occurs in the mouth

Yes, yes, 'oral' literally means 'relating to the mouth, and oral cancer primarily strikes the lips, tongue, cheeks, hard palate, and soft palate. But the cancer can also spread to the sinuses and the throat or pharynx.

2. Only smokers fall victim to oral cancer

Although 75% of those diagnosed with oral cancer over the age of 50 use tobacco (cigarettes, pipes, cigars etc.), several other factors are responsible for oral cancer, such as alcoholism, a sexually transmitted infection caused by human papillomavirus, and overexposure of sunlight.

3. Oral cancer has a higher death rate

Admittedly, oral cancer does cause a significant amount of deaths. The mortality rate amongst the diagnosed patients is no less than 57%. But this fact can be changed. The primary reason behind this mortality rate is that oral cancer is tough to diagnose, and it is usually diagnosed in its later stages in most cases; but with the help of state-of-the-art cancer detection technology, oral cancer can be detected in its early stages and can be treated effectively, with the survival rate being as high as 80-90%.

Oral cancer has had a gruesome history of being fatal, but it is about time that we change that fact for better. With the help of medical science, early and proper diagnosis, and a healthy living, we can come together and overcome the threat of oral cancer with conviction.