April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. This is the ideal time for you as a family caregiver to learn more about this type of disease. This awareness can help you to not only understand the risks that your aging parent might be facing but also be able to recognize when this condition may have developed. This allows you to give your parent the type of care that they need to manage their risk, identify their health issues, and make the decisions that are right for them as they move forward.
Some things that you should know about oral cancer include:
- Approximately 49,670 people are diagnosed with cancer of the oral cavity or oropharyngeal area each year in the United States
- Approximately 9,700 people will die of this type of cancer in the United States each year
- More than twice as many men develop oral cancers than women
- Oral cancer occurs among whites and blacks equally
- Recent studies have shown that the incidence of oral cancer has remained relatively stable in men over the past few years while it has decreased slightly in women
- Oral cancer is sometimes linked to the infection HPV, and this type of instance is increasing in both men and women
- The average age for diagnosis with oral cancer is 62, meaning your elderly parent is at higher risk of developing this type of cancer than younger people
- Approximately 3 in 4, or 75 percent of, patients with oral cancer were diagnosed when over the age of 55
- Oral cancer most frequently occurs in the floor of the mouth, gums, tongue, tonsils, and oropharynx
- This type of cancer can also occur in the lips and the salivary glands located in the roof of the mouth
- Cancers of the gums and some other areas of the mouth have a five-year survival rate of 60 percent
- Cancers of the tonsil and oropharynx have a five-year survival rate of 66 percent
- Cancers of the floor of the mouth have a five-year survival rate of 75 percent when localized at diagnosis. This drops to 38 percent when regional
- Cancers of the tongue have a five-year survival rate of 78 percent when localized at diagnosis. This drops to 63 percent when regional
- Cancers of the lip have a five-year survival rate of 93 percent when localized at diagnosis. This drops to 48 percent when regional
If your elderly loved one has recently been diagnosed with cancer, now may be the ideal time for you to consider starting senior care for them. A senior home care services provider can be with your elderly parent on a customized schedule that ensures that they always have access to the support, care, encouragement, and assistance that they need when they need it, while also encouraging them to maintain as much independence, autonomy, activity, engagement, and fulfillment as possible as they age in place.
This includes devising a highly personalized set of services tailored to not just their specific challenges, limitations, and health condition, but also the wishes that they have regarding their care and lifestyle during this journey. As their family caregiver, this can give you a tremendous sense of confidence and peace of mind knowing that they are getting everything that they need and that their wishes are being respected both when you are with them and when you are not.