Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Portugal, after cardiovascular diseases. Oral cancer is a group of malignant tumors that affects any tissue of the mouth (from the lips to the pharynx, including tonsils). Its most common site is the floor of the mouth and tongue. The incidence of oral cancer is greater than that of the cervix or larynx and is the sixth most common cancer worldwide. It is more common in men over 45 years old, becoming considerably more prevalent after 65 years old.
Tumors of the oral cavity may manifest as a stain, usually white or reddish and a hard mass or persistent ulcer that does not heal. The majority of the lesions are asymptomatic in their early stages, becoming progressively more painful. Difficulty in swallowing, changes in sensitivity and enlarged lymph nodes may be present.
Prevention of oral cancer is fundamentally based on the adoption of a healthy lifestyle, with the elimination of risk factors, such as tobacco and alcohol. Regular visits to the Dentist allows for an early diagnosis of premalignant lesions. When diagnosed early, the survival rate at 5 years may reach 90 %. However, in later stages mortality rates exceed 60%.