Each year in the US, approximately 30,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer. Worldwide the problem is far greater, with new cases annually approaching 300,000. Mouth cancer, tongue cancer, and throat cancer fall under the category of Oral cancer. In the US alone, a person dies from oral cancer every hour of every day. When found early, oral cancers have an 80 to 90 % cure rate. Unfortunately, the majority are found at late stage cancers, accounting for the very high death rate. .Of those 30,000 newly diagnosed individuals, only half will be alive in 5 years. The death rate for oral cancer is higher than that of cervical cancer, Hodgkins disease, cancer of the brain, liver, testes, kidney, or skin cancer (malignant melanoma).
Often it is only discovered when the cancer has metastasized (spread) to another location, most likely the lymph nodes of the neck. Once the cancer has spread, the prognosis is significantly worse than when it is caught in a localized area. At these later stages, the primary tumor has had time to invade deep into local structures. Oral cancer is particularly dangerous because it has a high risk of producing second, primary tumors. This means that patients who survive a first encounter with the disease, have up to a 20 times higher risk of developing a second cancer.
90% of Oral cancer are squamous cell carcinomas( the type of cancer) occurring more commonly in men and those over the age of 40. It is a cancer which occurs twice as often in the black population as in whites.