Head and neck cancers statistics

Cases

New cases of head and neck cancer, 2015, UK

Deaths

Deaths from head and neck cancer, 2016, 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 are around 11,700 new head and neck cancer cases in the UK every year, that's 32 every day (2013-2015).
  • Head and neck cancer is the 8th most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 3% of all new cancer cases (2015).
  • In males in the UK, head and neck cancer is the 4th most common cancer, with around 8,400 new cases in 2015.
  • In females in the UK, head and neck cancer is the 13th most common cancer, with around 3,700 new cases in 2015.
  • Incidence rates for head and neck cancer in the UK are highest in people aged 70 to 74 (2013-2015).
  • Since the early 1990s, head and neck cancer incidence rates have increased by almost a third (31%) in the UK. Rates in males have increased by more than a fifth (22%), and rates in females have increased by two-fifths (40%).
  • Over the last decade, head and neck cancer incidence rates have increased by around a quarter (24%) in the UK. Rates in males have increased by a fifth (20%), and rates in females have increased by around a quarter (26%).
  • 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.
  • Head and neck cancer in England is more common in people living in the most deprived areas.
  • An estimated 62,500 people who had previously been diagnosed with head and neck cancer were alive in the UK at the end of 2010.
  • There are around 3,900 head and neck cancer deaths in the UK every year, that's 11 every day (2014-2016).
  • Head and neck cancer is the 16th most common cause of cancer death in the UK, accounting for 2% of all cancer deaths (2016).
  • In males in the UK, head and neck cancer is the 12th most common cause of cancer death, with around 2,800 deaths in 2016.
  • In females in the UK, head and neck cancer is the 17th most common cause of cancer death, with around 1,200 deaths in 2016.
  • Mortality rates for head and neck cancer in the UK are highest in people aged 90+ (2014-2016).
  • Since the early 1970s, head and neck cancer mortality rates have decreased by around a tenth (11%) in the UK. Rates in males have decreased by more than a fifth (22%), and rates in females have decreased by around a seventh (15%).
  • Over the last decade, head and neck cancer mortality rates have increased by around a seventh (14%) in the UK. Rates in males have increased by more than a tenth (12%), and rates in females have increased by around a seventh (13%).
  • Overall, head and neck cancer deaths in England are more common in people living in the most deprived areas.
  • 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).
  • 1 in 188 UK males and 1 in 834 UK females will be diagnosed with laryngeal cancer in their lifetime.
  • 1 in 55 UK males and 1 in 108 UK females will be diagnosed with oral cancer in their lifetime.
  • 46-88% of head and neck cancer cases in the UK are preventable.
  • 46% of oral cavity cancer cases in the UK are preventable.
  • 88% of pharynx cancer cases in the UK are preventable.
  • 73% of larynx cancer cases in the UK are preventable.
  • 64% of laryngeal cancer cases in the UK are caused by smoking.
  • 37% of pharyngeal cancer cases in the UK are caused by smoking.
  • 25% of nasopharyngeal cancer cases in the UK are caused by smoking.
  • 17% of oral cavity cancer cases in the UK are caused by smoking.
  • 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.
  • '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.
  • Treatment for head and neck cancer varies for each cancer type.
  • Between 32% to 75% of patients diagnosed with head and neck cancers cancer have surgery to remove the tumour as part of their primary cancer treatment.
  • Between 43% and 85% of patients diagnosed with head and neck cancers have radiotherapy as part of their primary cancer treatment.
  • Between 8% and 61% of patients diagnosed with head and neck cancers have chemotherapy as part of their primary cancer treatment.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the many organisations across the UK which collect, analyse, and share the data which we use, and to the patients and public who consent for their data to be used. Find out more about the sources which are essential for our statistics.

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