Pop Quiz: Test your knowledge of oral cancer

| Understand the risks and symptoms to help prevent the disease and increase early detection|

WHEN YOU HEAR about the dangers of cancer, it’s rarely oral cancer that’s being discussed. Though the death rate for oral cancer is higher than that of cervical cancer, skin cancer, and many others, the disease is barely a blip on our country’s health radar. It’s a circumstance that has to change. Oral cancer’s mortality rate is due to the fact that it’s generally not detected until the cancer has reached an advanced stage and has spread to other parts of the body, making it much harder to beat the disease.

Oral cancer affects the head and the throat and includes any cancer of the lips, tongue, mouth, nose and sinuses, throat, tonsils, and larynx. Early detection is vastly important in treating and beating oral cancer, so take our quiz and test your knowledge.

1. Which type of cancer kills approximately 8,000 Americans every year, or about one person every hour?

A) Oral cancer
B) Skin cancer
C) Cervical cancer
D) Hodgkin’s lymphoma

2. True or False? The use of smokeless tobacco products — called snuff, dip, plugs or chew — greatly increases the likelihood of developing oral cancer.

3. Which factors contribute to the late diagnosis of oral cancer in the U.S.?

A) Early stages of most oral cancers have few or no obvious or painful symptoms
B) The dangers and statistics concerning oral cancer are not as publicized as other forms of cancer
C) There is no comprehensive screening program for oral cancer in the U.S.
D) All of the Above

4. Which age group is historically most likely to develop oral cancer?

A) Young children under 10 years of age
B) Teens and adults under 40
C) Adults over 40
D) Senior citizens over 80

5. Which of the following are risk factors for oral cancer?

A) Age
B) Use of tobacco and alcohol; and other lifestyle choices, such as a poor diet
C) Extended exposure to cancer-causing agents like UV rays and X-rays
D) Biological factors like viruses and fungi
E) All of the Above

6. True or False? HPV16, or human papilloma virus — a strain of the same virus responsible for 90 percent of all cervical cancers — is causing an increased occurrence of oral cancer in younger individuals.

7. Which of the following are symptoms of oral cancer?

A) Sores, ulcers or white or red discolored tissues in the tissues of the mouth
B) A lump or mass in the mouth or throat
C) Pain or difficulty chewing, swallowing or speaking
D) No obvious symptoms at all
E) All of the Above

8. Because there are so many benign changes that occur in the mouth, a good rule of thumb is to seek medical attention if the symptom does not heal or clear up within _____ days.

A) 7
B) 14
C) 21
D) 28


1. A) Oral cancer. According to the OCF, more than 43,000 U.S. citizens are diagnosed every year with some form of oral cancer, and about 8,000 die from oral cancers every year.

2. True. While smokeless tobacco does reduce the dangers of lung cancer over cigarettes and cigars, it increases the risk of developing oral cancer. Being tobacco free is the safest option.

3. D) All of the Above. Despite the high rate of oral cancer, most Americans are unaware of the dangers. With a lack of obvious symptoms and an absence of a nationwide screening program, many oral cancers go undetected in early forms.

4. C) Adults over 40. Oral cancer is most often diagnosed in adults 40 years old and older.

5. E) All of the Above. Like many cancers, the accumulative damage from factors such as tobacco and alcohol and viral HPV infections are, according to the OCF, the most likely culprits behind most oral cancers.

6. True. HPV16 is contributing to oral cancer in individuals under 40 at an alarming rate.

7. A) All of the Above. Unfortunately, the early signs and symptoms may be few, making annual medical visits very important.

8. B) 14. Seek professional medical attention if a sore or discoloration does not clear up after two weeks.

RESOURCES: Information provided by The Oral Cancer Foundation — http://www.oralcancerfoundation.org/facts/


feature by ERIKA ALDRICH

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