Oral Cancer Facts

  • Approximately 90 percent of the cancers in the oral cavity and the oropharynx are squamous cell carcinomas.
  • Oral cancer is a cancer that begins in the mouth or the throat at the back of the mouth, called the oropharynx. (Cancer that begins in the back of the mouth is also called oropharyngeal cancer.)
  • An oral or oropharyngeal cancer can appear anywhere throughout the oral cavity, including the lips, the lining of the mouth, under the tongue, the tongue, the gums, the area behind the wisdom teeth, the back of the throat, the tonsils, and the roof of the mouth.
  • Close to 42,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. It will cause over 8,000 deaths, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day. 
  • Of those 42,000 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half will be alive in 5 years. (Approximately 57%) This is a number which has not significantly improved in decades. 
  • The death rate for oral cancer is higher than that of cancers which we hear about routinely such as cervical cancer, Hodgkin's lymphoma, laryngeal cancer, cancer of the testes, and endocrine system cancers such as thyroid, or skin cancer (malignant melanoma).