Delta Dental of Indiana

Oral Cancer

The Oral Cancer Trend: Younger Faces

Oral cancer is spreading.

More than 48,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year causing 9,570 deaths, killing roughly one person per hour, 24 hours per day.3 Of that number, only 64 percent will be alive in five years. Even more concerning is what used to be considered an old man’s disease, is no longer the case today. The new face of oral cancer is getting younger and younger and sadly, the fastest growing segment of newly diagnosed cases is nonsmoking, young adults. Why is this?

Unlike most other cancers, 75 percent of oral cancer is caused by lifestyle choices. While smoking still leads the pack as the most common cause, a new factor has been identified as being the culprit of oral cancer in young people. The good news is you can reduce the risk of getting this disease by making better lifestyle choices.

  • 70 percent of all mouth and throat cancers are HPV-related.1
  • Only 64 percent of those diagnosed will survive in the next five years.2
  • One person will die every hour from oral cancer.3
  • 52 percent of oral cancer survivors will not return to work due to severe facial disfiguration.4
  • Eighty to 90 percent of oral cancer patients will survive if diagnosed early.5

Want to learn more? Check out our oral health video.

Additional resources:

Oral Cancer Foundation
American Dental Association
American Cancer Society

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “How Many Cancers Are Linked with HPV Each Year?,” web.
National Cancer Institute, “SEER Stat Fact Sheets: Oral Cavity and Pharynx Cancer,” web.
Oral Cancer Awareness Foundation, “Oral Cancer Facts,” web.
4 Jacobson et al, “The Cost Burden of Oral, Oral Pharyngeal, and Salivary Gland Cancers in Three Groups: Commercial Insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid,” Head and Neck Oncology 4, no. 1 (2012): 15.
Oral Cancer Awareness Foundation, “Early Detection,” web.