Early Detection

When found early, oral cancer patients have an 80 to 90 % survival rate. Unfortunately 40% of those diagnosed with oral cancer will die within five years because the majority of these cases will be discovered as a late stage malignancy. (see stage description in Oral Cancer section)

Oral cancer is particularly dangerous, because the patient may not notice it in its early stages. It can frequently prosper without producing pain or symptoms. As a result, Oral Cancer often goes undetected until it has already metastasized to another location.

Oral Cancer - Who does Oral Cancer Screening?

Dentists, Periodontists, Hygienists

Most oral cancer screenings are done by a Dentist or Hygienist

Periodontists routinely screen for oral cancer on all new patients

A routine "recall" exam usually includes a visual search for lesions and abnormal structures in the oral cavity

It is estimated that 60% of the patients visiting a dentist get screened at least once a year

Oral Surgeons

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons examine every new patient for lesions and abnormal tissue structures

Oral Surgeons are not front-line detectors, because their patients are typically referred by dentist and other medical professionals as a primary source for cancer diagnosis and treatment

Otolaryngologists - ENT Head and Neck Surgeons

ENT's examine the oral cavity of every new patient and every patient with a complaint

ENT's are not front-line detectors because their patients are usually referred by other physicians for upper respiratory tract complaints

Primary Care Physicians

An oral inspection is part of every new patient examination but is usually superficial

A Primary Care Physician will inspect the oral cavity of a patient who is asymptomatic but may be complaining of mouth, throat, or upper respiratory irritation