Oral cancer statistics

Cases

New cases of head and neck cancer, 2014, UK

 

Deaths

Deaths from oral cancer, 2014, UK

Survival

Survive head and neck cancers for 10 or more years, 2009-13, England

Prevention

Preventable cases of head and neck cancer, UK

  • There were around 11,400 new cases of head and neck cancer in the UK in 2014, that’s 31 cases diagnosed every day.
  • Head and neck cancer accounts for 3% of all new cases in the UK (2014).
  • In males in the UK, head and neck cancer is the fourth most common cancer, with around 7,900 cases diagnosed in 2014.
  • In females in the UK, head and neck cancer is the 12th most common cancer with around 3,500 cases diagnosed in 2014.
  • Half (50%) head and neck cancer cases in the UK each year are diagnosed in people aged 65 and over (2012-2014).
  • Incidence rates for head and neck cancer in the UK are highest in males aged 70-74 and females aged 90+ (2012-2014).
  • Since the early 1990s, head and neck cancer incidence rates have increased by almost a third (30%) in the UK. The increase is larger in females (40%), than in males (20%).
  • Over the last decade, head and neck cancer incidence rates have increased by almost a quarter (23%) in the UK, with a larger increase in females (27%) than in males (19%).
  • More than 6 in 10 head and neck cancer cases are diagnosed at a late stage in Northern Ireland (2010-2014).
  • Most head and neck cancers occur in the larynx.
  • Incidence rates for oral cancer are projected to rise by 33% in the UK between 2014 and 2035, to 20 cases per 100,000 people by 2035.
  • 1 in 175 men and 1 in 800 women will be diagnosed with laryngeal cancer during their lifetime.
  • 1 in 75 men and 1 in 150 women will be diagnosed with oral cancer during their lifetime.
  • Head and neck 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.

See more in-depth oral cancer incidence statistics

  • 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%).
  • Mortality rates for oral cancer are projected to rise by 38% in the UK between 2014 and 2035, to 7 deaths per 100,000 people by 2035.
  • Overall, head and neck 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.

See more in-depth oral cancer mortality statistics

  • Between 19% and 59% of people diagnosed with head and neck cancers in England survive their disease for ten years or more (2009-13).
  • Between 28% and 67% of people diagnosed with head and neck cancers in England survive their disease for five years or more (2009-13).
  • Between 61% and 86% of people diagnosed with head and neck cancers in England survive their disease for one year or more (2009-13).
  • Survival varies by head and neck cancer subtype in England and is highest in salivary glands cancer and lowest in hypopharyngeal cancer (one-, five- and ten-year survival, 2009-2013).
  • Head and neck cancers 10-year survival in England is generally similar in men and women (2009-13), though the size of the sex difference varies by subtype.
  • Head and neck cancers survival in England is generally higher for people diagnosed aged 15-49 compared with other age groups, though the association with age varies by subtype.
  • Salivary glands cancer survival has the widest gap between age groups among head and neck cancer subtypes: 9 in 10 people in England diagnosed with salivary glands cancer aged 15-49 survive their disease for five years or more, compared with 5 in 10 people diagnosed aged 70-89 (2009-2013).
  • Five-year relative survival for most head and neck cancer types in males is similar to or above the European average in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
  • Five-year relative survival for most head and neck cancer types in females is similar to or above the European average in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
  • 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.
  • 93% of laryngeal cancer cases each year in the UK are linked to major lifestyle and other risk factors.
  • Risk factors vary by the specific site of head and neck cancer.
  • Smoking is the main avoidable risk factor for head and neck cancer, linked to an estimated 65% of oral cancer cases, and an estimated 79% of laryngeal 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%).
  • An estimated 93% of laryngeal cancers in the UK are linked to lifestyle factors including smoking, and alcohol (25%).
  • Betel quid, smokeless tobacco, ionising radiation and certain occupational exposures cause oral cancer.
  • Certain occupational exposures cause laryngeal cancer.
  • A diet high in fruit and vegetables may protect against head and neck cancer – insufficient fruit and vegetables intake is linked to an estimated 56% of oral cancer cases, and an estimated 45% of laryngeal 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.
  • HPV infection, environmental tobacco smoke, and certain medical conditions may relate to higher laryngeal cancer risk, but evidence is unclear.

See more in-depth head and neck cancer risk factors

  • '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.
  • 90-92% of head and neck cancer patients had a ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ patient experience.
  • 83-85% head and neck cancer patients are given the name of their Clinical Nurse Specialist.

See more in-depth oral cancer diagnosis and treatment statistics

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The latest statistics available for oral cancer in the UK are; incidence 2014, mortality 2014 and survival 2009-2013.

Unless otherwise stated, the ICD codes Open a glossary item for oral cancer used are ICD-10 C00-C06, C09-C10 and C12-C14 (which include the lip, tongue, mouth, oropharynx, piriform sinus, hypopharynx and other and ill-defined sites of the lip, oral cavity and pharynx).

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.

Meta-analyses Open a glossary item and systematic reviews Open a glossary item are cited where available, as they provide the best overview of all available research and most take study quality into account. Individual case-control and cohort studies Open a glossary item are reported where such aggregated data are lacking.

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.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge the essential work of the cancer registries in the United Kingdom and Ireland Association of Cancer Registries, without which there would be no data.

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