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Survival

These are general statistics based on large groups of patients. They can’t tell you what will happen in your individual case.

No one can tell you exactly how long you’ll live. It depends on:

  • the type and stage of cancer
  • presence of cancer in the groin nodes
  • your level of fitness
  • previous treatment
Your doctor can give you more information about your own outlook (prognosis). Or you can talk to the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday.

Survival by stage

There are no UK-wide statistics available for different stages of mouth cancer or particular treatments.

The following statistics are from the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN). They are for people diagnosed with mouth (oral cavity) cancer in England and Wales, between 2004 and 2011. The figures are for 1 and 3 year survival. At the moment there are no statistics available for 5 year survival. 

For men diagnosed with stage 1 and 2 mouth (oral cavity) cancer:

  • more than 90 out of 100 (more than 90%) survive their cancer for 1 year or more
  • around 80 out of 100 (around 80%) survive their cancer for 3 years or more

For women diagnosed with stage 1 and 2 mouth cancer:

  • around 95 out of 100 (around 95%) survive their cancer for 1 year or more 
  • more than 80 out of 100 (more than 80%) survive their cancer for 3 years or more 

For men diagnosed with stage 3 and 4 mouth cancer:

  • almost 70 out of 100 (almost 70%) survive their cancer for a year or more 
  • almost 50 out of 100 (almost 50%) survive their cancer for 3 years or more 

For women diagnosed with stage 3 or 4 cancer:

  • around 65 out of 100 (around 65%) survive their cancer for a year or more
  • almost 50 out of 100 (almost 50%) survive their cancer for 3 years or more

Survival by site of tumour

Survival for mouth and oropharyngeal cancer depends on where the cancer is. 

These statistics are for people diagnosed in England between 2009 and 2013. 

For mouth (oral cavity) cancer: 

  • almost 80 out of 100 people (almost 80%) survive their cancer for 1 year or more after they are diagnosed
  • almost 60 out of 100 people (almost 60%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

For oropharyngeal cancer 

  • almost 85 out of 100 (almost 85%) survive their cancer for a year or more 
  • around 65 out of 100 (around 65%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more 

The oropharynx is the part of the throat just behind your mouth 

For tongue cancer: 

  • around 80 out of 100 (around 80%) survive their cancer for a year or more 
  • around 60 out of 100 (around 60%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more 

What affects survival

Your outcome depends on the stage of the cancer when it was diagnosed. This means how big it is and whether it has spread.

The outlook for mouth cancers also depends on which part of the mouth or oropharynx is involved.

Some oropharyngeal cancers are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). Oropharyngeal cancers that contain HPV tend to do better than oropharyngeal cancers that don’t contain HPV.

About these statistics

The terms 1 year survival and 5 year survival don't mean that you will only live for 1 or 5 years. They relate to the number of people who are still alive 1 year or 5 years after their diagnosis of cancer.

Some people live much longer than 5 years.

More statistics

You can read more statistics for mouth and oropharyngeal cancer in our Cancer Statistics section.

Last reviewed: 
15 Jun 2018
  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (2016)

  • Oral cavity cancer: recent survival trends 
    National Cancer Intelligence network (2013)

  • Cancer and its management (7th edition)
    Tobias J and Hochhauser D
    Blackwell, 2015

  • Oropharyngeal cancer: United Kingdom National Multidisciplinary Guidelines
    H. Mehanna and others
    Journal of Larynology and Otology (2016) 130 S290 – 96

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