Statistics at a Glance
At a Glance
Estimated New Cases in 2021 54,010
% of All New Cancer Cases 2.8%
Estimated Deaths in 2021 10,850
% of All Cancer Deaths 1.8%
|Year||Rate of New Cases — SEER 9||Rate of New Cases — SEER 13||Death Rate — U.S.||5-Year Relative Survival — SEER 9|
|Observed||Modeled Trend||Observed||Modeled Trend||Observed||Modeled Trend||Observed||Modeled Trend|
New cases come from SEER 13. Deaths come from U.S. Mortality.
All Races, Both Sexes. Rates are Age-Adjusted.
Modeled trend lines were calculated from the underlying rates using the Joinpoint Trend Analysis Software.
New cases are also referred to as incident cases in other publications. Rates of new cases are also referred to as incidence rates.
Rate of New Cases and Deaths per 100,000: The rate of new cases of oral cavity and pharynx cancer was 11.5 per 100,000 men and women per year. The death rate was 2.5 per 100,000 men and women per year. These rates are age-adjusted and based on 2014–2018 cases and deaths.
Lifetime Risk of Developing Cancer: Approximately 1.2 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with oral cavity and pharynx cancer at some point during their lifetime, based on 2016–2018 data.
Prevalence of This Cancer: In 2018, there were an estimated 396,937 people living with oral cavity and pharynx cancer in the United States.
How Many People Survive 5 Years Or More after Being Diagnosed with Oral Cavity and Pharynx Cancer?
Relative survival is an estimate of the percentage of patients who would be expected to survive the effects of their cancer. It excludes the risk of dying from other causes. Because survival statistics are based on large groups of people, they cannot be used to predict exactly what will happen to an individual patient. No two patients are entirely alike, and treatment and responses to treatment can vary greatly.
Based on data from SEER 18 2011–2017. Gray figures represent those who have died from oral cavity and pharynx cancer. Green figures represent those who have survived 5 years or more.
Survival by Stage
Cancer stage at diagnosis, which refers to extent of a cancer in the body, determines treatment options and has a strong influence on the length of survival. In general, if the cancer is found only in the part of the body where it started it is localized (sometimes referred to as stage 1). If it has spread to a different part of the body, the stage is regional or distant. The earlier oral cavity and pharynx cancer is caught, the better chance a person has of surviving five years after being diagnosed. For oral cavity and pharynx cancer, 28.1% are diagnosed at the local stage. The 5-year relative survival for localized oral cavity and pharynx cancer is 85.2%.
|Stage||Percent of Cases||5-Year Relative Survival|
Confined to Primary Site
Spread to Regional Lymph Nodes
Cancer Has Metastasized
SEER 18 2011–2017, All Races, Both Sexes by SEER Summary Stage 2000
New Cases and Deaths
How Common Is This Cancer?
|Rank||Common Types of Cancer||Estimated New
|1.||Breast Cancer (Female)||281,550||43,600|
|3.||Lung and Bronchus Cancer||235,760||131,880|
|5.||Melanoma of the Skin||106,110||7,180|
|8.||Kidney and Renal Pelvis Cancer||76,080||13,780|
|Oral Cavity and Pharynx Cancer||54,010||10,850|
Oral cavity and pharynx cancer represents 2.8% of all new cancer cases in the U.S.
In 2021, it is estimated that there will be 54,010 new cases of oral cavity and pharynx cancer and an estimated 10,850 people will die of this disease.
Who Gets This Cancer?
Oral cancer is more common in men than women, among those with a history of tobacco or heavy alcohol use, and individuals infected with human papillomavirus (HPV). The rate of new cases of oral cavity and pharynx cancer was 11.5 per 100,000 men and women per year based on 2014–2018 cases, age-adjusted.
|American Indian/Alaska Native||12.2|
|American Indian/Alaska Native||4.1|
SEER 21 2014–2018, Age-Adjusted
|Age Range||Percent of New Cases|
Oral cavity and pharynx cancer is most frequently diagnosed among people aged 55–64.
SEER 21 2014–2018, All Races, Both Sexes
Who Dies From This Cancer?
For oral cancer, death rates are higher among males, particularly those of African American descent. The death rate was 2.5 per 100,000 men and women per year based on 2014–2018 deaths, age-adjusted.
|American Indian/Alaska Native||3.5|
|American Indian/Alaska Native||1.1|
U.S. 2014–2018, Age-Adjusted
|Age Range||Percent of Deaths|
The percent of oral cavity and pharynx cancer deaths is highest among people aged 65–74.
U.S. 2014–2018, All Races, Both Sexes
Trends in Rates
Changes Over Time
Keeping track of new cases, deaths, and survival over time (trends) can help scientists understand whether progress is being made and where additional research is needed to address challenges, such as improving screening or finding better treatments.
Using statistical models for analysis, age-adjusted rates for new oral cavity and pharynx cancer cases have been rising on average 0.9% each year over 2009–2018. Age-adjusted death rates have been rising on average 0.5% each year over 2009–2018. 5-year relative survival trends are shown below.
Interactive Statistics with SEER*Explorer
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SEER*Explorer is an interactive website that provides easy access to a wide range of SEER cancer statistics. It provides detailed statistics for a cancer site by gender, race, calendar year, age, and for a selected number of cancer sites, by stage and histology.Explore Additional Oral Cavity and Pharynx Cancer Statistics
More About This Cancer
Cancer and the Oral Cavity and Pharynx
Figure: Anatomy of the oral cavity; drawing shows the lip, hard palate, soft palate, retromolar trigone, front two-thirds of the tongue, gingiva, buccal mucosa, and floor of mouth. Also shown are the teeth, uvula, and tonsil.
Most lip and oral cavity cancers start in squamous cells, the thin, flat cells that line the lips and oral cavity. These are called squamous cell carcinomas. Cancer cells may spread into deeper tissue as the cancer grows. Squamous cell carcinoma usually develops in areas of leukoplakia (white patches of cells that do not rub off).
Lip and oral cavity cancer is a type of head and neck cancer.
Related Stat Facts by Subtype
Here are some resources for learning more about oral cancer.
- More about risk factors for oral cancer
- More about symptoms and diagnosis of oral cancer
- More about treatment options for oral cancer
- More about clinical trials
- More about cancer prevention
All statistics in this report are based on statistics from SEER and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. Most can be found within SEER*Explorer.
All material in this report is in the public domain and may be reproduced or copied without permission; citation as to source, however, is appreciated.
SEER Cancer Stat Facts: Oral Cavity and Pharynx Cancer. National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/oralcav.html
These stat facts focus on population statistics that are based on the U.S. population. Because these statistics are based on large groups of people, they cannot be used to predict exactly what will happen to an individual patient. To see tailored statistics, browse SEER*Explorer. To see statistics for a specific state, go to the State Cancer Profiles.
The statistics presented in these stat facts are based on the most recent data available, most of which can be found in SEER*Explorer. In some cases, different year spans may be used.
Estimates of new cases and deaths for 2021 are projections made by the American Cancer Society (ACS), based on earlier reported data.
Cancer is a complex topic. There is a wide range of information available. These stat facts do not address causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, follow-up care, or decision making, although links are provided to information in many of these areas.