Oral cancer statistics

Cases

New cases of oral cancer, 2011, UK

Deaths

Deaths from oral cancer, 2012, UK

Prevention

Preventable cases of oral cancer, UK

  • Around 6,800 people were diagnosed with oral cancer in 2011 in the UK, that’s more than 18 people every day.
  • In 2011, around 4,510 men and 2,257 women were diagnosed with oral cancer.
  • One fifth of oral cancer cases diagnosed in the UK occur in people aged 75 and over. This proportion is lower in males (15%) than females (29%).
  • The 50-74 age group contributes around 7 in 10 male oral cancer cases, and around 6 in 10 female cases.
  • Oral cancer incidence rates in the UK have risen by a third in the last decade.
  • 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.

Read more in-depth oral cancer incidence statistics

  • Around 2,100 people died of oral cancer in 2012 in the UK, that’s around 6 people every day.
  • Around two-thirds of oral cancer deaths in the UK in 2012 were in men.
  • Almost three-quarters (74%) of oral cancer deaths in the UK in 2012 were in people aged 60 and older.
  • Oral cancer mortality rates have increased by around 10% in the UK in the last decade.
  • 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.

Read more in-depth oral cancer mortality statistics

  • 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.
  • A person’s risk of developing oral cancer depends on many factors, including age, genetics, and exposure to risk factors (including some potentially avoidable lifestyle 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.

Read more in-depth oral cancer risk factors

The latest statistics available for oral cancer in the UK are; incidence 2011, mortality 2012. Reliable survival data for the UK is currently not available.

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.

Meta-analyses 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.

Citation

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]. 

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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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