April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and dentistrytoday.com will be celebrating the event with blogs, news stories, and other features all spotlighting the disease. #OralCancerAwareness
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, a time when our attention turns to this insidious disease. Oral cancer claims one life every hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 12 months a year. In fact, the estimated number of new cancer cases of the oral cavity and pharynx will be close to 50,000 in 2017, claiming approximately 9,700 deaths—now 4 times higher than the incidence rate of cervical cancer and many other cancers that we seem to hear about more often.1
The fastest growing segment of the oral cancer and oropharyngeal cancer (OPC) population is largely driven by rising rates of a subset of cancers in the tongue, oropharynx, and tonsils associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that HPV infection is so common that almost all sexually active American adults will have an infection at some point in their lifetime.2
Most people will clear the infection and may not even be aware they have been infected. If the individual has a healthy functioning immune system, the virus will be dealt with similarly to the common cold. The transformation from an infection to a malignancy is attributed to a persistent infection with a high-risk strain of HPV. The other historically known etiologic pathway for oral cancer is alcohol and tobacco products.