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Survival statistics for mouth or oropharyngeal cancer

Men and women discussing mouth cancer

Survival statistics for mouth or oropharyngeal cancer. There is information about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Statistics and outlook for mouth cancer

Outlook means your chances of getting better. Your doctor may call this your prognosis. With mouth and oropharyngeal cancer, the likely outcome depends on how advanced the cancer is when it is diagnosed. This means the stage and grade of your cancer. The outlook also depends on which part of the mouth or oropharynx is involved.

Below we have quite detailed information about the likely outcome of different stages of these cancers. The statistics we use are taken from a variety of sources, including the opinions and experience of the experts who check every section of Cancer Research UK's information. They are intended as a general guide only. For the more complete picture in your case, you need to speak to your own specialist.

We include statistics because people ask for them, but not everyone wants to read this type of information. Remember that you can skip this page if you don't want to read it, you can always come back to it.

How reliable are cancer statistics?

No statistics can tell you what will happen to you. Your cancer is unique. The same type of cancer can grow at different rates in different people. The statistics cannot tell you about the different treatments people may have had, or how that treatment may have affected their prognosis. There are many individual factors that will affect your treatment and your outlook.

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the Treating mouth cancer section.

 

 

About the information on this page

This page has quite detailed information about the survival rates for different stages of mouth and oropharyngeal cancer. People ask us for this information but not everyone diagnosed with cancer wants to read it. If you are not sure whether you want to know at the moment, you can always come back to it later.

The statistics here are intended as a general guide and can't tell you what is likely to happen in your individual case.

 

Cancer statistics in general

There is detailed information about different types of cancer statistics in our section about cancer statistics. Unless you are very familiar with medical statistics, you may find it helpful to read this before you read the information below.

Remember that statistics are averages based on large numbers of people. They cannot predict exactly what will happen to you. No two patients are exactly alike and the response to treatment also varies from one person to another.

Doctors often use the terms 5 year survival or 10 year survival when talking about outlook. This does not mean that you will only live 5 or 10 years. It relates to the number of people who are alive 5 or 10 years after their diagnosis of mouth or oropharyngeal cancer. Doctors follow what happens to people for at least 5 years after treatment in any research study. This is because there is only a small chance of the cancer coming back more than 5 years after treatment. Doctors do not usually like to say that these people are cured because there is that small chance. So they use the term 5 year survival instead.

Please note that there are no detailed UK statistics available for mouth cancer survival. The statistics we present here are pulled together from a variety of different sources, including the opinions and experience of the experts that check each section of Cancer Research UK's patient information. 

Outlook by stage

As with many other types of cancer, the outcome for mouth cancer depends on how advanced your cancer is. In other words, the stage and grade of your cancer. There are no national statistics available for different stages of mouth cancer or treatments that people may have had.

The outlook for mouth cancers also depends on which part of the mouth or oropharynx is involved. The statistics below are general and some combine all stages and types of mouth cancers. Where we have them, we have listed 5 year survival rates for specific kinds of mouth cancer but these are not available for all types. For information tailored to your particular cancer you will need to talk to your own specialist.

 

Overall statistics for mouth and oropharyngeal cancers

Survival rates for mouth and oropharyngeal cancers have risen slightly over the last 20 years. For oropharyngeal cancer, around 40 out of every 100 men (40%) and more than 40 out of every 100 women (40%) will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis. 

Rates for individual mouth cancers include

  • Lip cancer – around 90 out of 100 people diagnosed (90%) will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis
  • Tongue cancer – almost 60 out of 100 women (60%) and more than 40 out of 100 men (40%) will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis
  • Oral cavity – this includes all other mouth cancers (not lip or tongue) and more than 50 out of every 100 women (50%) and almost 50 out of every 100 men (50%) will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis

It is important to know that we have not included 5 year survival rates for individual stages of these cancers. Because these cancers are quite rare, it is difficult to get reliable figures. Generally speaking, the earlier a cancer is found and treated, the better the outcome is likely to be. So, 5 year survival rates for the early stages (stage 0, 1 and 2) of these cancers will be higher than the overall statistics. And the statistics for the later stages (stage 3 and 4) will be lower.

Several studies have reported that people with mouth or oropharyngeal cancer who have human papilloma virus (HPV) have a better outlook than people who do not have HPV. We need more research to see how HPV can be used to predict the outcome for people with these cancers.

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Updated: 14 October 2014