The Oral Cancer Foundation is a national public service, non-profit entity designed to reduce suffering and save lives through prevention, education, research, advocacy, and patient support activities. Oral cancer is 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 42,000 people in the US will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer in 2013. 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. This is the fifth year in a row in which there has been an increase in the rate of occurrence of oral cancers, in 2007 there was a major jump of over 11% in that single year. 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 newly identified etiology, and the same one which is responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancers in women. A small percentage of people (under 7 %) do get oral cancers from no currently identified cause. It is currently believed that these are likely related to some genetic predisposition.
While some think this is a rare cancer, mouth cancer will be newly diagnosed in about 100 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 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, 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 (www.oralcancerfoundation.org) 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. There is an additional resource page dedicated to links to other sources of vetted information about oral cancer and treatment institutions.