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As dental professionals committed to the dental and medical health of patients in Durham and Oxford NC, Dr. Michael Wilson and the team at Wilson Orthodontics are supporting the Oral Cancer Foundation and actor Michael Douglas to increase consumer awareness regarding the increase in oral cancer apparent today. Early diagnosis can reduce suffering and save lives through prevention, education, research, advocacy, and patient support activities.

It is estimated that approximately 40,000 people in the US will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer in 2012. 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.

There has been an increase in oral cancer over the past five years. In 2007 alone, there was an 11% escalation in one year. The two most common causes of oral cancer are historically tobacco and alcohol, and most recently identified cause, the HPV-16 virus (human papilloma virus version 16). The same cause 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 identifiable reason, most likely genetics.

When diagnosed early, oral cancers have an 80 to 90 % survival rate. Unfortunately, most are diagnosed as late stage cancers which accounts for the very high death rate of about 45% within five years of diagnosis. Late stage diagnosis is not occurring because oral cancers are hard to discover, it due to lack of public awareness and national programs which would yield early discovery by medical and dental professionals. Worldwide, the problem is far greater, with new cases annually exceeding 640,000.

Visit your general dentist regularly to ensure you and your family is screened regularly for oral cancer. If you have a question or comment regarding the diagnosis of oral cancer, please leave a comment below.

For more information about oral cancer, visit

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