Kurt Mitchler, DDS
Accredited American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry
Fellow Academy of General Dentistry
Fellow Congress of Oral Implantologists
COSMETIC IMPLANT & FAMILY DENTISTRY
(707) 838-1400
100 Windsor River Road, Windsor, CA 95492

Patient Education

About Oral Cancer – Early Detection Can Make a World of Difference

Most people are surprised to learn that one American dies every hour from oral cancer; a death rate that has remained virtually unchanged for more than 40 years. In fact, recent statistics published by the American Cancer Society indicate that while the incidence and death rates for cancers overall has decreased, the incidence of oral cancer has increased by 5.5% and the death rate has increased by 1.5%.


Statistics, Facts and Famous Victims — The Deadly Statistics

  • Every hour of every day, one American dies of oral cancer.
  • he mortality rate associated with oral cancer has not improved significantly in the last 40 years. In fact, recent statistics published by the American Cancer Society indicate that while the incidence and death rates for cancers overall has decreased, the incidence for oral cancer has increased by 5.5% and the death rate has increased by 1.5%.
  • The death rate in the Unites States for oral cancer is higher than that of cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s disease, cancer of the brain, liver, testes, kidney or ovarian cancer.
  • More than 30,000 Americans will receive an oral cancer diagnosis this year. In five years, less than 57% will still be alive.
  • 8,000 Americans will die each year of oral cancer.

Oral cancer is far too often detected in late stage development — the primary reason for the high death rate. Oral cancer can have potentially disfiguring effects on patients, seriously compromising their quality of life. Early detection of abnormalities can make a large difference in life expectancy; oral cancer is 90% curable when found early. Unfortunately, 70% of oral cancers are diagnosed in the late stages, and 43% of those diagnosed will die within five years.

Oral Cancer Risk by Patient Profile
As is the case with most cancers, age is the primary risk factor for oral cancer. Approximately 90% of oral cancer victims are age 40 and older, recent studies indicate that increasingly, patients younger than age 40 are being diagnosed with oral cancer. Though tobacco and alcohol use are the primary lifestyle risk factors that contribute to the development of oral cancer, 27% of oral cancer victims do not use tobacco or alcohol, and have no lifestyle risk factors. Oral cancer affects men more than women, 2:1, but oral cancer in women is on the rise nationwide.

The Oral Cancer Foundation Homepage
Additional Resources and Links for Information on Oral Cancer
Increased Risk:
Patients age 40 and older with no lifestyle risk factors, or
Patients age 18-39 with lifestyle risk factors
High Risk:
Patients age 40 and older with lifestyle risk factors or patients with a history of oral cancer
Risk Factors:
Lifestyle risk factors for oral cancer include: Tobacco use (any type, any age, within 10 years)
Alcohol consumption of at least 1 drink per day (3 ounces of hard liquor, 4 ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of beer)
Other Risk Factors:
Immune deficiencies such as HIV & AIDS
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV 16/18)


Famous Victims:
Oral cancer has touched the lives of many people; however some of the better known oral cancer victims may surprise you.

  • Babe Ruth
  • Sigmund Freud
  • Jack Klugman
  • Aaron Spelling
  • Alan King
  • Humphrey Bogart
  • Lana Turner
  • Eddie Van Halen
  • Rod Stewart
  • Bill Blass
  • Burl Ives
  • Sammy Davis, Jr.
  • John Prine
  • Jim Thorpe
  • Mary Wells
  • George Harrison

The Oral Cancer Foundation Homepage
Additional Resources and Links for Information on Oral Cancer