Head and neck cancers incidence statistics

Cases

New cases of head and neck cancer, 2014-2016 average, UK

Proportion of all cases

Percentage head and neck cancer is of total cancer cases, 2014-2016 average, UK

Age

Peak rate of head and neck cancer cases, 2014-2016, UK

 

Trend over time

Change in head and neck cancer incidence rates since the early 1990s, UK

 

Head and neck cancer is the 8th most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 3% of all new cancer cases (2016).[1-4]

In females in the UK it is the 13th most common cancer (2% of all new female cancer cases). In males in the UK, head and neck cancer is the 4th most common cancer (5% of all new male cancer cases).

31% of head and neck cancer cases in the UK are in females, and 69% are in males.

Head and neck cancer incidence rates (European age-standardised (AS) rates Open a glossary item) for persons are significantly higher than the UK average in Scotland and Wales, and similar to the UK average in all other UK constituent countries.

Head and Neck Cancer (C00-C14, C30-C32), Number of New Cases, Crude and European Age-Standardised (AS) Incidence Rates per 100,000 Population, UK, 2016

  England Scotland Wales Northern Ireland UK
Female Cases 3,043 389 211 97 3,740
Crude Rate 10.9 14.0 13.4 10.2 11.2
AS Rate 11.2 13.7 12.6 11.2 11.5
AS Rate - 95% LCL 10.8 12.4 10.9 9.0 11.2
AS Rate - 95% UCL 11.6 15.1 14.3 13.4 11.9
Male Cases 6,809 855 500 210 8,374
Crude Rate 24.9 32.5 32.6 22.9 25.9
AS Rate 27.9 34.6 33.3 27.6 28.8
AS Rate - 95% LCL 27.3 32.3 30.4 23.8 28.1
AS Rate - 95% UCL 28.6 37.0 36.2 31.3 29.4
Persons Cases 9,852 1,244 711 307 12,114
Crude Rate 17.8 23.0 22.8 16.5 18.5
AS Rate 19.2 23.5 22.5 18.8 19.7
AS Rate - 95% LCL 18.8 22.2 20.9 16.7 19.4
AS Rate - 95% UCL 19.6 24.8 24.2 21.0 20.1

95% LCL and 95% UCL are the 95% lower and upper confidence limits Open a glossary item  around the AS Rate  Open a glossary item
 

For head and neck cancer, like most cancer types, differences between countries largely reflect risk factor prevalence in years past.

References

  1. Data were provided by the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (part of Public Health England), on request through the Office for Data Release, August 2018. Similar data can be found here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/cancerregistrationstatisticsengland/previousReleases
  2. Data were provided by ISD Scotland on request, April 2018. Similar data can be found here: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications.
  3. Data were provided by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit, Health Intelligence Division, Public Health Wales on request, February 2019. Similar data can be found here: http://www.wcisu.wales.nhs.uk.
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, April 2018. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/.

About this data

Data is for UK, 2016, ICD-10 C00-C14, C30-C32.

Last reviewed:

Head and neck cancer incidence is strongly related to age, with the highest incidence rates being in older people. In the UK in 2014-2016, on average each year more than a fifth (22%) of new cases were in people aged 75 and over.[1-4]

Age-specific incidence rates rise from around age 35-39, sharply in men and steadily in women. The highest rates are in the 90+ age group for females and the 70 to 74 age group for males.

Incidence rates are significantly lower in females than males in a number of (mainly older) age groups. The gap is widest at age 55 to 59, when the age-specific incidence rate is 2.9 times lower in females than males.

Head And Neck Cancer (C00-C14, C30-C32), Average Number of New Cases per Year and Age-Specific Incidence Rates per 100,000 Population, UK, 2014-2016

95% LCL and 95% UCL are the 95% lower and upper confidence limits Open a glossary item  around the AS Rate Open a glossary item
 

For head and neck cancer, like most cancer types, incidence increases with age. This largely reflects cell DNA damage accumulating over time. Damage can result from biological processes or from exposure to risk factors. A drop or plateau in incidence in the oldest age groups often indicates reduced diagnostic activity perhaps due to general ill health.

References

  1. Data were provided by the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (part of Public Health England), on request through the Office for Data Release, August 2018. Similar data can be found here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/cancerregistrationstatisticsengland/previousReleases
  2. Data were provided by ISD Scotland on request, April 2018. Similar data can be found here: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications.
  3. Data were provided by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit, Health Intelligence Division, Public Health Wales on request, February 2019. Similar data can be found here: http://www.wcisu.wales.nhs.uk.
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, April 2018. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/.

About this data

Data is for UK, 2014-2016, ICD-10 C00-C14, C30-C32.

Last reviewed:

Head and neck cancer European age-standardised (AS) Open a glossary item incidence rates for females and males combined increased by 32% in the UK between 1993-1995 and 2014-2016.[1-4] The increase was larger in females than in males.

For females, head and neck cancer AS incidence rates in the UK increased by 41% between 1993-1995 and 2014-2016. For males, head and neck cancer AS incidence rates in the UK increased by 22% between 1993-1995 and 2014-2016.

Over the last decade in the UK (between 2004-2006 and 2014-2016), head and neck cancer AS incidence rates for females and males combined increased by 22%.[1-4] In females AS incidence rates increased by 25%, and in males rates increased by 18%.

Head And Neck Cancer (ICD-10 C00-C14, C30-C32), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, UK, 1993-2016

Head and neck cancer incidence rates have increased overall in all broad adult age groups in females in the UK since the early 1990s.[1-4] Rates in 25-49s have increased by 54%, in 50-59s have increased by 61%, in 60-69s have increased by 51%, in 70-79s have increased by 31%, and in 80+s have increased by 15%.

Head And Neck Cancer (ICD-10 C00-C14, C30-C32), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, By Age, Females, UK, 1993-2016

Head and neck cancer incidence rates have increased overall in most broad adult age groups in males in the UK since the early 1990s, but have remained stable in some.[1-4] Rates in 25-49s have increased by 33%, in 50-59s have increased by 42%, in 60-69s have increased by 36%, in 70-79s have increased by 7%, and in 80+s have remained stable.

Head And Neck Cancer (ICD-10 C00-C14, C30-C32), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, By Age, Males, UK, 1993-2016

For head and neck cancer, like most cancer types, incidence trends largely reflect changing prevalence of risk factors and improvements in diagnosis and data recording. Recent incidence trends are influenced by risk factor prevalence in years past, and trends by age group reflect risk factor exposure in birth cohorts.

References

  1. Data were provided by the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (part of Public Health England), on request through the Office for Data Release, August 2018. Similar data can be found here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/cancerregistrationstatisticsengland/previousReleases
  2. Data were provided by ISD Scotland on request, April 2018. Similar data can be found here: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications.
  3. Data were provided by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit, Health Intelligence Division, Public Health Wales on request, February 2019. Similar data can be found here: http://www.wcisu.wales.nhs.uk.
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, April 2018. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/.

About this data

Data is for UK, 1993-2016, ICD-10 C00-C14, C30-C32.

Last reviewed:

Overall stage at diagnosis

A moderate proportion (79%) of head and neck cancer patients in Northern Ireland have a stage at diagnosis recorded.[1]

Head and neck cancer patients diagnosed with a known stage are most commonly diagnosed at stage IV (45%). More head and neck cancer patients with a known stage are diagnosed at a late stage (62% are diagnosed at stage III or IV), than an early stage (38% are diagnosed at stage I or II).[1]

The stage distribution for each cancer type will reflect many factors including how the cancer type develops, the way symptoms appear, public awareness of symptoms, how quickly a person goes to see their doctor and how quickly the cancer is recognised and diagnosed by a doctor. It might also relate to whether a national screening programme that can detect early stage disease exists for that cancer type, along with the extent of uptake of that programme.

A cancer type associated with a large proportion of early stage diagnoses could be one that is more likely to be symptomatic at an earlier stage of development, with recognisable symptoms rather than more generic ones.

Head and Neck Cancer (C00-C14, C30-C32), Proportion of Cases Diagnosed at Each Stage, All Ages, Northern Ireland 2010-2014

References

  1. Northern Ireland Cancer Registry, Queens University Belfast, Incidence by stage 2010-2014. Belfast: NICR; 2016.

About this data

Data is for: Northern Ireland 2010-2014, ICD-10 C00-C14, C30-C32

Last reviewed:

In males, the largest proportion of head and neck cancer cases occur in the larynx, with smaller proportions in the tonsils, and slightly smaller proportions in the base of the tongue and floor of the mouth (2010-2012).[1-4]

In females, the largest proportion of head and neck cancer cases occurs in the larynx, with slightly smaller proportions in the tonsils, parotid gland, palate and gum (2010-2012).[1-4]

The proportions of cases in the larynx, tonsils, and base of the tongue are higher in males (26.2%, 12.6% and 8.0%, respectively) than females (13.1%, 9.7% and 5.2%, respectively). In the parotid gland and gum, the proportions are higher in females (6.9% and 5.4%, respectively) than males (4.1% and 2.6%, respectively), and there are no marked sex differences in the other sites of head and neck cancer.[1-4]

A large proportion of cases did not have the specific site recorded in cancer registry data, or overlapped more than one part.[1-4]

Infographic showing head and neck cancers by anatomical site

Cases and percentages may not sum due to rounding

References

  1. Data were provided by the Office for National Statistics on request, July 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/cancer-statistics-registrations--england--series-mb1-/index.html
  2. Data were provided by ISD Scotland on request, April 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications/index.asp.
  3. Data were provided by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit on request, April 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sites3/page.cfm?orgid=242&pid=59080.
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, June 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/CancerInformation/.

About this data

Data is for: UK, 2010-2012, Head and Neck cancer, ICD-10 C00-C14, C30-C32

Last reviewed:

There is evidence for an association between head and neck cancer incidence and deprivation in England.[1] The strength of the association varies for males and females between head and neck cancer subtypes. European age-standardised Open a glossary item head and neck cancer incidence rates are 81-188% higher for males living in the most deprived areas in England compared with the least deprived, and 45-288% higher for females living in the most deprived areas in England compared with the least deprived, as shown for people diagnosed with head and neck cancer during 2006-2010.[1]

Head and Neck Cancer Subtypes European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates by Deprivation Quintile, Males, England, 2006-2010

Head and Neck Cancer Subtypes European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates by Deprivation Quintile, Females, England, 2006-2010

The estimated deprivation gradient in oral and laryngeal cancer incidence for males and females living in the most and least deprived areas in England has not changed in the period 1996-2010. The estimated deprivation gradient in oropharyngeal cancer incidence between people living in the most and least deprived areas in England has widened for females in the period 1996-2010, but has not changed for males.[1] It is estimated that there would have been around 330-650 fewer head and neck cancer cases each year in England during 2006-2010 if all people experienced the same incidence rates as the least deprived.[1]

References

  1. Cancer Research UK and National Cancer Intelligence Network. Cancer by deprivation in England: Incidence, 1996-2010, Mortality, 1997-2011. London: NCIN; 2014.

About this data

Data is for England, 2006-2010, Head and Neck cancer, ICD-10 codes (C01 and C09-C10, C02-C04 and C32)

Deprivation gradient statistics were calculated using incidence data for 2006-2010. 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.

Last reviewed:

An estimated 62,500 people who had been diagnosed with head and neck cancer between 1991 and 2010 were alive in the UK at the end of 2010.[1]

References

  1. Macmillan Cancer Support and National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service. Cancer Prevalence UK Data Tables. London: NCRAS; 2015.

About this data

Data is for: Great Britain (1991-2010) and Northern Ireland (1993-2010), ICD-10 C00-C14, C30-C32.

Last reviewed:

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