Head and neck cancers incidence statistics

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Cases

New cases of head and neck cancer, 2015-2017, UK.

Proportion of all cases

Percentage head and neck cancer is of total cancer cases, 2015-2017, UK

Age

Peak rate of head and neck cancer cases, 2015-2017, 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 (2017).[1-4]

In females in the UK, head and neck cancer is the 13th most common cancer (2% of all new female cancer cases). In males in the UK, it 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, 2017

  England Scotland Wales Northern Ireland UK
Female Cases 3,090 366 228 106 3,790
Crude Rate 11.0 13.1 14.4 11.2 11.3
AS Rate 11.3 12.8 13.6 12.1 11.5
AS Rate - 95% LCL 10.9 11.5 11.8 9.8 11.2
AS Rate - 95% UCL 11.7 14.1 15.3 14.4 11.9
Male Cases 6,856 909 521 236 8,522
Crude Rate 24.9 34.4 33.8 25.6 26.2
AS Rate 27.6 36.2 34.1 30.6 28.8
AS Rate - 95% LCL 27.0 33.9 31.2 26.7 28.2
AS Rate - 95% UCL 28.3 38.6 37.1 34.5 29.4
Persons Cases 9,946 1,275 749 342 12,312
Crude Rate 17.9 23.5 24.0 18.3 18.6
AS Rate 19.1 23.7 23.3 20.7 19.7
AS Rate - 95% LCL 18.7 22.4 21.6 18.5 19.4
AS Rate - 95% UCL 19.5 25.0 25.0 22.9 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, November 2019. 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 2019. 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, December 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, May 2019. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/.

About this data

Data is for UK, 2017, 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 2015-2017, on average each year more than a fifth of new cases (22%) 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, 2015-2017

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, November 2019. 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 2019. 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, December 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, May 2019. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/.

About this data

Data is for UK, 2015-2017, 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 33% in the UK between 1993-1995 and 2015-2017.[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 43% between 1993-1995 and 2015-2017. For males, head and neck cancer AS incidence rates in the UK increased by 23% between 1993-1995 and 2015-2017.

Over the last decade in the UK (between 2005-2007 and 2015-2017), head and neck cancer AS incidence rates for females and males combined increased by 20%.[1-4] In females AS incidence rates increased by 24%, and in males rates increased by 17%.

Head And Neck Cancer (ICD-10 C00-C14, C30-C32), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, UK, 1993-2017

Head and neck cancer incidence rates have increased overall in most broad age groups in females in the UK since the early 1990s, but have remained stable in some.[1-4] Rates in 0-24s have remained stable, in 25-49s have increased by 57%, in 50-59s have increased by 63%, in 60-69s have increased by 56%, 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, 1993-2017

Head and neck cancer incidence rates have increased overall in most broad age groups in males in the UK since the early 1990s, but have remained stable or decreased in some.[1-4] Rates in 0-24s have remained stable, in 25-49s have increased by 33%, in 50-59s have increased by 44%, in 60-69s have increased by 38%, in 70-79s have increased by 9%, and in 80+s have decreased by 10%.

Head And Neck Cancer (ICD-10 C00-C14, C30-C32), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, By Age, Males, UK, 1993-2017

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, November 2019. 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 2019. 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, December 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, May 2019. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/.

About this data

Data is for UK, 1993-2017, 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:

Head and neck cancer incidence rates (European age-standardised (AS) rates Open a glossary item) in England in females are 64% higher in the most deprived quintile compared with the least, and in males are 101% higher in the most deprived quintile compared with the least (2013-2017).[1]

It is estimated that there are around 2,300 more cases of head and neck cancer each year in England than there would be if every deprivation quintile had the same age-specific crude incidence rates as the least deprived quintile. Around 520 of these cases are in females, and around 1,800 in males.

In the text above, males and females’ excess cases do not sum to persons excess cases due to rounding

Head and Neck Cancer (C00-C14, C30-C32), Estimated Average Number of Excess Cases per Year and European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates per 100,000 Population, by Deprivation Quintile, England, 2013-2017

References

  1. Calculated by the Cancer Intelligence Team at Cancer Research UK, April 2020. Based on method reported in National Cancer Intelligence Network Cancer by Deprivation in England Incidence, 1996-2010 Mortality, 1997-2011 . Using cancer incidence data 2013-2017 (Public Health England) and population data 2013-2017 (Office for National Statistics) by Indices of Multiple Deprivation 2015 income domain quintile, cancer type, sex, and five-year age band.

About this data

Data is for England, 2013-2017, ICD-10 C21.

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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