Oropharyngeal Cancer by the Numbers

Author: Dr. David Dickerhoff, DDS, MAGD, FOCOI

+53,260 estimated new cases in 2020

+10,750 estimated deaths in 2020

+2.9% of all new cancer cases

+1.8% of all cancer deaths

Men are twice as likely as women to be diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancer.  63 is the median age at diagnosis. 68 is the median age at death.  The five year relative survival rate is 66.2%.

We at Spring Lake Dental Group, do an oral cancer screening with each examination.  But you can assist us in arriving at a discovery diagnosis by thinking about each of these screening questions.

  • Do you have any red or white patches on your tongue or tonsils that have been there for more than two weeks?
  • Do you have excessive phlegm buildup, or are you consistently clearing your throat?
  • Do you have persistent coughing?
  • Have you noticed your voice changing? Have you had bouts of coughing?
  • Do you have a persistent sore throat or have a feeling that something is caught in your throat?
  • Do you have difficulty swallowing of chewing?
  • Do you have difficulty moving your jaw or tongue?
  • Do you have numbness of the tongue or other areas of the mouth?
  • Do you have a lump in the neck?
  • Are your cervical lymph glands sore or tender?
  • Do you have unexplained weight loss or persistent bad breath?

Answering any of these questions in the affirmative does not mean that you have oral cancer, but may be the information that your health care provider needs to arrive at a better diagnosis. Keep the conversation going with your dentist.  Early diagnosis and treatment is the key to a good prognosis.