The Oral Cancer Foundation is a national public service, IRS registered 501(c)3 non-profit entity designed to reduce suffering and save lives through prevention, education, research, advocacy, and patient support activities. Oral and oropharyngeal cancers are the largest group of those cancers which fall into the head and neck cancer category. Common names for it include such things as mouth cancer, tongue cancer, tonsil cancer, and throat cancer. Approximately 51,550 people in the US will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer in 2018. This includes those cancers that occur in the mouth itself, in the very back of the mouth known as the oropharynx, and on the exterior lip of the mouth. For more than a decade there has been an annual increase in the rate of occurrence of oral and oropharyngeal cancers. This is expected to continue as there is no national screening policy or protocol, and the risk factors for the disease continue to be relatively unchanged.
There are two distinct pathways by which most people come to oral cancer. One is through the use of tobacco and alcohol, a long term historic problem and cause, and the other is through exposure to the HPV-16 virus (human papilloma virus version 16), a relatively new (since 1999) identified etiology, and the same one which is responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancers in women. A small percentage of people (under about 10%) do get oral cancers from no currently identified cause. It is currently believed that these are likely related to some genetic predisposition or frailty, or a yet unidentified shared risk factor.
While some think this is a rare cancer, mouth cancers will be newly diagnosed in about 132 new individuals each day in the US alone, and a person dies from oral cancer every hour of every day. If you add the sub category of laryngeal throat cancers, the rates of occurrence (about 12,000 additional new cases per year) and death are significantly higher. When found at early stages of development, oral cancers have an 80 to 90 % survival rate. Unfortunately at this time, the majority are found as late stage cancers, and this accounts for the very high death rate of about 43% at five years from diagnosis (for all stages and etiologies combined at time of diagnosis), and high treatment related morbidity in survivors. Late stage diagnosis is not occurring because most of these cancers are hard to discover, (though some like HPV origin disease have unique discovery issues), it is because of a lack of public awareness coupled with the lack of a national program for opportunistic screenings which would yield early discovery by medical and dental professionals. Worldwide the problem is far greater, with new cases annually exceeding 640,000.
This site will provide you with hundreds of pages of information about the rates of occurrence, risk factors which lead to oral cancer, signs and symptoms, treatments, current research, complications of treatment, nutrition, related clinical trials, and current oral cancer related news. It is the informational component of the Oral Cancer Foundation, which has many other initiatives in effect related to the disease. These range for funding of relevant research to improve survival and encourage early discovery, advocacy mostly in government agencies to encourage things that have raged from the FDA control of tobacco, to the HPV vaccination of boys, to approvals for much needed research funding. Additionally the foundation is active in tobacco cessation efforts targeting the rodeo and rural American demographics where tobacco still has a strong foothold, promoting use of the HPV vaccine to change the increasing rate of HPV oropharyngeal cancers over the next generation, providing equipment help to those who suffer from both a financial disparity and a swallowing disfunction commonly produced by treatments that can last a lifetime, and a public self-screening and referral initiative; CheckYourMouth.org to increase early stage discovery. There is an additional resource page dedicated to links to other sources of vetted information about oral cancer and treatment institutions, and the foundation produces two podcasts directed at patients, survivors, and those in the dental community involved in early discovery each month available on Apple podcasts, Oral Cancer Answers