Consumer survey conducted by Vigilant Biosciences, in collaboration with Head and Neck Cancer Alliance, and Support for People with Oral and Head and Neck Cancer, reveals greater need for oral cancer screening, education and prevention among US adults
Fort Lauderdale, Fla., USA – A recent national consumer survey revealed that among US adults, the majority knows very little or nothing at all about oral cancer (58 per cent) and only 37 per cent reported being screened for oral cancer at their last dental check-up, according to a survey released by Vigilant Biosciences, Inc., a leading innovator and developer of solutions that aid in the early detection and intervention of cancer, in collaboration with the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance, and Support for People with Oral and Head and Neck Cancer (SPOHNC).
The online survey polled 523 US consumers ages 35 to 75 on their knowledge and preferences around oral cancer and oral cancer screening. The findings were released today in support of Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month happening in April, and Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week® spanning from April 10 to 16, 2016.
The survey found that the majority of consumers (86 per cent) want to learn more about how to reduce their risk for oral cancer and are interested in simple screening tools, used in the dental office or at home, that test for early indicators of oral cancer and provide information on increased or decreased chance of developing oral cancer.
“Oral, head and neck cancer – particularly HPV-related oral cancer – is increasing at an alarming rate and many people are not diagnosed until the cancer has progressed to a later stage,” said Holly Boykin, Executive Director at Head and Neck Cancer Alliance. “Early diagnosis is significant to the successful treatment of these cancers, and by working together with other industry organisations, as well as private companies like Vigilant Biosciences, we can improve patients’ lives through early detection and a commitment to engage in conversations about risk factors.”
“The diagnosis of head and neck cancer can be overwhelming,” said Mary Ann Caputo, Executive Director of Support for People with Oral and Head and Neck Cancer. “Patients diagnosed with this disease can find support, hope and encouragement through SPOHNC’s many resources and programmes specifically designed for this patient population. Any steps to raise awareness of oral, head and neck cancer will help to increase the survival rate and quality of life from earlier intervention. National Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month is a great time to begin this dialogue.”
Screening for oral, head and neck cancer
While just over a third of those surveyed recall being screened for oral cancer at their last dental check-up, a large majority would like to be screened at every check-up and would like their dental professional to use simple screening tools to assess their risk.
Among notable findings:
Only 37 per cent reported being screened for oral cancer at their last dental check-up.
83 per cent of respondents would like to be screened for oral cancer at every dental check-up.
85 per cent would like the option to be screened for oral cancer with a simple rinse and spit test that would assess early risk factors specifically associated with oral cancer, and provide information on increased or decreased risk for developing oral cancer. A number of those would be willing to pay $25 or more for this screening.
Risk factors for oral, head and neck cancer
Tobacco use and alcohol consumption are behaviours associated with the highest risk for developing oral cancer. Another risk factor includes exposure to certain types of HPV (human papillomavirus), especially HPV-16. While the majority of survey respondents recognised tobacco use as a leading risk factor for oral, head and neck cancer, many did not know that exposure to HPV was also a risk factor:
Only 23 per cent recall talking to their dental professional about oral cancer risks at their last dental check-up.
65 per cent of respondents were unaware that HPV is a risk factor for oral cancer.
More than 86 per cent want their dental professional to help them learn ways to reduce their risk of developing oral cancer.
Consumers also underestimated the death rate for oral cancer. Only 17 per cent of those surveyed were aware that 40 per cent of people diagnosed with oral cancer die within five years, with most believing the five-year survival rate to be higher.
“This year’s survey found that there is still much work to be done around increasing awareness of oral cancer and oral cancer risk,” said Matthew H.J. Kim, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vigilant Biosciences. “Hundreds of thousands continue to be diagnosed with late-stage oral cancer every year, but we can work together to impact those numbers by educating consumers on the risks and providing clinicians with simple, accurate and cost-effective tests that can help detect oral cancer before it is too late.” – Vigilant Biosciences, Inc.