Of the 36,000 people who will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year, only slightly more than half will be alive in 5 years.
Every hour, one person dies of oral cancer.
Survivor rates are so low because it's often not detected until too late. A simple and painless test at the dentist office could change those odds.
Robert Levine said he avoided disaster when his dentist, during a routine visit, found something on the bottom of his tongue.
"He saw a white spot on one side," said Levine.
The almost undetectable spot was dysplasia -- a precancerous cell.
"One of the biggest problems, once we find it and diagnosis: survival is less than a year," said Dr. David Godin, a head and neck surgeon at Beth Israel Hospital.
Godin said the key is to find it early before a precancerous cell turns into a carcinoma. Ninty-five But this killer can be caught at the dentist office are carcinomas.
Mark Rutenberg used technology he created in the military to determine nuclear warheads from decoys to create OralCDx. It's used to detect abnormal cells among normal cells. It's a brush test that sweeps across the inside of the mouth. There's no anesthesia and takes just a few minutes.