Oral cancer is on the rise and can be a horrible, debilitating, deadly disease. Oral cancer screening and early detection can save your life!
Three years ago, Tommy and I made a commitment to stop smoking cigarettes. Ironically, a month after we had successfully quit, Tommy was diagnosed with cancer. He had a small spot on his tongue that thankfully the dentist had recommended he get checked out. A biopsy then confirmed it was cancerous. Everything changed for us then as we imagined the worst. I’m not going to get into all the details on this post but I know without a doubt that what saved him (us) was catching it early! (The details are posted on Caringbridge which is an amazing free protected site that family and friends can visit to stay informed and leave supportive messages.)
During this very scary and stressful time in our marriage, we gained a lot of support, strength and answers from the Oral Cancer Foundation forum where people affected by oral cancer (caregivers and survivors) could learn, vent, and get support from people who lived the same experiences.
One of the many great survivors we came to love is Eric Statler, the Director of Strategic Partnerships for the OCF . I approached him a while back and asked if he would write something for our blog to help us to get the word out about oral cancer and the importance of oral cancer screening and early detection. As if he’s not busy enough, he took the time to write something specifically for this post.
This year nearly 40,000 Americans will be diagnosed with Oral Cancer, 60% of those diagnosed will be found in later stages of the disease, significantly lowering their chances of survival and most certainly lowering their quality of life if they do survive this deadly, debilitating cancer.
Historically Tobacco and Alcohol have been the major causes of Oral Cancer, however today the leading cause of new cases of this disease are due to the Human Papillomavirus, or HPV. According to research done by Dr. Maura Gillison of the Ohio State University, 60% of all newly diagnosed Oral Cancers are due to this virus. The fastest growing demographic of Oral Cancers now are younger people between the ages of 20 – 40 with none of the traditional risk factors like Tobacco and Alcohol.
The five year survival rate for Oral Cancer is a mere 57% according to the National Cancer Institute, and those that do survive the cancer face disfiguring and disabling side effects of the treatments of the disease. Due to these quality of life issues half of all Oral Cancer Survivors suffer from major depression, one of the highest rates of depression of all oncology patients.
The high death rate of this disease sadly isn’t due to lack of viable treatments, it is largely due to how late these cancers are found. If diagnosed in the early stages, patients have an 80-90% survival rate, with the survivors having little effect to their quality of life. As with any cancer, early detection and awareness saves lives, so the Oral Cancer Foundation has partnered with many regional oral health practitioners around the country to provide events with free oral cancer screenings. A schedule of these screenings can be found here:
We encourage everyone to participate in these events locally and help us raise awareness to this disease and help us save lives, smiles, kisses, and families.
~ Eric Statler
A huge thanks to Eric for writing that for us!
April is Oral Cancer Awareness month during which many dental professionals will be participating by providing times for FREE oral cancer screenings . Check with your local dentist to see if they will be participating! Even if it’s not a special free event, I can’t stress enough the importance of early detection!
More videos featuring Eric Statler about Oral Cancer, the importance of oral cancer screening and his story:
- A Sit Down with Statler
- Eric’s personal message to the Nashville OCF Walk for Awareness
- Eric Statler – Introduction and thank you to the Richardson Group for Oral Screening.
Other Oral Cancer Videos:
- HPV & Oral Cancer
- Michael Douglas on Early detection of Oral Cancer
- Blythe Danner on Oral Cancer screening
- Jack Klugman Oral Cancer