When found at an early stage of development (Stage I and II), oral cancers have an 80 to 90 percent survival rate. The problem is that the majority of oral cancers are found in late stages (Stage II and IV), resulting in a mortality rate of 43 percent at a five-year diagnosis (for all stages combined).
Why is oral cancer found so late?
It is not because oral cancer is hard to discover or dignose, it is because of a lack of public awareness and the simple fact that there is not a comprehensive program to opportunistically screen for the disease.1
“A COE (Clinical Oral Examination) of mucosal lesions generally is not predictive of their histologic diagnosis. The fact that OSCCs often are diagnosed at an advanced stage emphasized the need for improving the COE and the need to develop adjuncts to assist in oral mucosal lesion detection and diagnosis.”
1 Oral Cancer Foundation
2 Epstein et al.: The limitations of the clinical oral examination in detecting dysplastic oral lesions and oral squamous cell carcinoma. The Journal of American Dental Association, 2012; 143(12):1332–1342.