Want the key stats in the sections on this page as a document? or looking for a stats report of the in-depth stats? Use the print function at the bottom of any Cancer Stats page Share this page > Print or your browser options to print or save.
Oral cancer statistics
New cases of oral cancer, 2013, UK
Deaths from oral cancer, 2014, UK
Preventable cases of oral cancer, UK
- There were around 7,600 new cases of oral cancer in the UK in 2013, that’s 21 cases diagnosed every day.
- Oral cancer is the 14th most common cancer in the UK (2013).
- Oral cancer accounts for 2% of all new cases in the UK (2013).
- In males in the UK, oral cancer is the 11th most common cancer, with around 5,100 cases diagnosed in 2013.
- In females in the UK, oral cancer is the 16th most common cancer, with around 2,500 cases diagnosed in 2013.
- Almost half (45%) of oral cancer cases in the UK each year are diagnosed in people aged 65 and over (2011-2013).
- Since the late 1970s, oral cancer incidence rates have increased by 92% in Great Britain. The increase is larger in females (88%), than in males (73%).
- Over the last decade, oral cancer incidence rates have increased by almost two-fifths (39%) in the UK, with a similar increase for males (37%) and females (37%).
- Most oral cancers occur in the tonsils.
- 1 in 75 men and 1 in 150 women will be diagnosed with oral cancer during their lifetime.
- Oral cancer in England is more common in people living in the most deprived areas.
- Oral cancer is more common in White males than in Black males, but similar to Asian males, but Asian and Black males are similar to each other.
- In the UK more than 38,600 people were still alive at the end of 2006, up to ten years after being diagnosed with head and neck cancer.
- In Europe, around 61,400 new cases of lip and oral cavity cancer were estimated to have been diagnosed in 2012. The UK incidence rate is 16th lowest in Europe for males and 11th highest for females.
- Worldwide, more than 300,000 new cases of lip and oral cavity cancer were estimated to have been diagnosed in 2012, with incidence rates varying across the world.
- Almost half (45%) of oral cancer deaths in the UK each year are in people aged 70 and over (2012-2014).
- Mortality rates for oral cancer in the UK are highest in people aged 90+ (2012-2014).
- Since the late 1970s, oral cancer mortality rates have remained stable in the UK for males and females combined, however this includes a decrease (11%) in males and stable rates for females.
- Over the last decade, oral cancer mortality rates have increased by around a fifth (21%) in the UK. The increase is similar in males (20%) and females (19%).
- Oral cancer deaths in England are more common in people living in the most deprived areas.
- In Europe, around 23,600 people were estimated to have died from lip and oral cavity cancer in 2012. The UK mortality rate is 11th lowest in Europe for males and 20th highest for females.
- Worldwide, more than 145,000 people were estimated to have died from lip and oral cavity cancer in 2012, with mortality rates varying across the world.
- A person’s risk of developing cancer depends on many factors, including age, genetics, and exposure to risk factors (including some potentially avoidable lifestyle factors).
- 91% (93% in males and 85% in females) of oral cancer cases each year in the UK are linked to major lifestyle and other risk factors.
- Risk factors vary by the specific site of oral cancer.
- Smoking is the main avoidable risk factor for oral cancer, linked to an estimated 65% of oral cancer cases in the UK.
- An estimated 91% of oral cancers in the UK are linked to lifestyle factors including smoking, alcohol (30%), and infections (13%).
- Betel quid, smokeless tobacco, ionising radiation and certain occupational exposures cause oral cancer.
- A diet high in fruit and vegetables may protect against oral cancer – insufficient fruit and vegetables intake is linked to an estimated 56% of oral cancer cases in the UK.
- Environmental tobacco smoke and solar radiation may relate to higher risk of some oral cancer types, but evidence is unclear.
- 'Two-week wait' standards are met by all countries, '31-day wait' is met by all but Wales, and ‘62-day wait’ is not met by any country for head and neck cancers.
- Almost half of oral cancer patients receive major surgical resection as part of their cancer treatment.
- More than 9 in 10 patients had a ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ patient experience.
- Almost 9 in 10 patients are given the name of their Clinical Nurse Specialist.
The latest statistics available for oral cancer in the UK are; incidence 2013, mortality 2014. Reliable survival data for the UK is currently not available.
Unless otherwise stated, the
There is no standard definition of oral cancer and different studies report data using different combinations of ICD codes so caution needs to be used when making comparisons between analyses.
European Age-Standardised Rates were calculated using the 1976 European Standard Population (ESP) unless otherwise stated as calculated with ESP2013. ASRs calculated with ESP2013 are not comparable with ASRs calculated with ESP1976.
Lifetime risk estimates were calculated using incidence, mortality, population and all-cause mortality data for 2012.
Cancer waiting times statistics are for patients who entered the health care system within financial year 2014-15. Oral cancer is part of the group 'Head and Neck cancers' for cancer waiting times data. Codes vary per country but broadly include: lip, tongue, gum, floor of mouth, palate, other and unspecified parts of mouth, parotid gland, salivary glands, tonsil, oropharynx, nasopharynx, piriform sinus, hypopharynx, other ill-defined site of lip, oral cavity and pharynx, nasal cavity and middle ear, accessory sinuses, larynx, thyroid and lymph nodes and other and ill-defined sites of the head, face and neck.
Cancer surgical resection rates data is for patients diagnosed in England between 2006 and 2010.
Patient Experience data is for adult patients in England with a primary diagnosis of cancer, who were in active treatment between September and November 2013 and who completed a survey in 2014.
Deprivation gradient statistics were calculated using incidence data for three time periods: 1996-2000, 2001-2005 and 2006-2010 and for mortality for two time periods: 2002-2006 and 2007-2011. The 1997-2001 mortality data were only used for the all cancers combined group as this time period includes the change in coding from ICD-9 to ICD-10. The deprivation quintiles were calculated using the Income domain scores from the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) from the following years: 2004, 2007 and 2010. Full details on the data and methodology can be found in the Cancer by Deprivation in England NCIN report.
You are welcome to reuse this Cancer Research UK statistics content for your own work.
Credit us as authors by referencing Cancer Research UK as the primary source. Suggested styles are:
Web content: Cancer Research UK, full URL of the page, Accessed [month] [year].
Publications: Cancer Research UK ([year of publication]), Name of publication, Cancer Research UK.