May 11, 2011
Oral cancers occur in the lips, tongue, gingiva, floor of the mouth, oropharynx and tonsils, hypopharynx, salivary glands, nasopharynx,and other oral and pharyngeal areas. Over the last 30 years,the typical location of cancers within the oral cavity has changed. The overall 5-year survival rate for oral cancer is about 50%, and survival rates for cancers detected earlier are much better than rates for cancers identified in later stages. However, only about
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one third of all oral cancers are detected in stage I: the earliest stage. Therefore, early detection of suspicious lesions by dentists or other healthcare professionals, with referral to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon for biopsy and timely treatment, offers patients the best chances of survival from oral cancers.
An oral exam by a healthcare professional is the most effective way to detect suspicious lesions. To learn more about oral cancer detection by dental personnel, focusing on proper diagnosis and referral, Medscape interviewed an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, Steven M. Roser, DMD, MD, and an oral pathologist, Robert O. Greer, DDS, ScD.