Oral Cancer Oral Cancer
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

Oral (mouth) cancer is more common in African American men than in any other group in the U.S. population. For this reason, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research together with the National Cancer Institute has launched an educational campaign titled “Oral Cancer: What African American Men Need to Know.” The purpose of this campaign is to spread the word about oral cancer and the importance of detecting the disease early.

What puts someone at risk for developing oral cancer?

Most cases of oral cancer are linked to cigarette smoking, heavy alcohol use, or the use of both tobacco and alcohol together. In fact, using tobacco plus alcohol poses a much greater risk than using either substance alone. Additionally, the human papillomavirus (HPV) may also play a part in oral cancer. And the risk of oral cancer increases with age — most oral cancers occur after the age of 40.

The importance of early detection

It’s important to find oral cancer early when it can be treated more successfully. See a doctor or dentist if you notice any changes in your mouth or throat that last more than two weeks (especially if you smoke or drink).

What are possible signs and symptoms of oral cancer? A sore, irritation, lump or thick patch in your mouth, lip, or throat A white or red patch in your mouth A feeling that something is caught in your throat Difficulty chewing or swallowing Difficulty moving your jaw or tongue Numbness in your tongue or other areas of your mouth Swelling of your jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable Pain in one ear without hearing loss

Most often, these symptoms do not mean cancer. An infection or another problem can cause the same symptoms. But it’s important to get them checked out.

For more information, please see the following publications:

Are you at risk for oral cancer? What African American men need to know
This brochure alerts African American men to their risk for oral cancer, lists the signs and symptoms, and discusses the importance of early detection.

The Oral Cancer Exam
A companion to the brochure, this card describes the steps of an oral cancer examination.

Oral Cancer: What African American Men Need to Know
In two sizes, this poster is designed to raise African American men’s awareness of their risk for oral cancer and the importance of early detection.

Oral Cancer Statistics
This fact sheet provides information on oral cancer incidence and survival.

Oral Cancer: Causes, Symptoms & The Oral Cancer Exam
This fact sheet contains additional information about oral cancer plus an extensive list of references to the medical literature.