Prevalence • An estimated 49,750 new cases of oral cancer will be diagnosed each year. • Oral cancer will claim 9,750 lives annually. • On average, 57 percent of those with the disease will survive more than five years. • Oral cancer affects almost twice as many men as women. Risk Factors • An estimated 25 percent of oral cancer patients have no known risk factors. • Alcohol and tobacco remain the greatest risk factors (and using them in combination increases the risk 15 times over the use of one or the other). • Infection with the sexually transmitted HPV16 virus has been linked to a subset of oral cancers. • Historically, oral cancer has been a disease of those ages 40+, but its incidence in those under 40 is climbing. • Prolonged sun or tanning bed exposure is a risk factor for lip cancer. • Smokeless tobacco is not a safe alternative to cigarettes – users face a 400 percent greater chance of oral cancer than non-users. Possible Signs and Symptoms While you may have no symptoms at all, you should see your oral and maxillofacial surgeon or dentist if you experience any of the following: • A sore on the lip or in the mouth that does not heal. • A lump or thickening on the lips or gums or in the mouth. • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsils or lining of the mouth. • Bleeding, pain or numbness in the lip or mouth. • Change in voice. • Loose teeth or dentures that no longer fit well. • Trouble chewing or swallowing or moving the tongue or jaw. • Swelling of the jaw. • Sore throat or feeling that something is caught in the throat. Early Detection • Performing a self-examination regularly increases the chance of identifying changes or new growths early. • If you have risk factors, also see your oral and maxillofacial surgeon or dentist for an oral examination at least annually. • The earlier the cancer is detected, the easier the treatment and the greater the chance of a cure.