Statistics at a Glance

At a Glance

Estimated New Cases in 2020 53,260

% of All New Cancer Cases 2.9%

Estimated Deaths in 2020 10,750

% of All Cancer Deaths 1.8%

5-Year
Relative Survival

66.2% 2010–2016
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
1975 13.21 13.09 - - 4.30 4.29 52.93% 52.15%
1976 13.29 13.18 - - 4.22 4.27 53.68% 52.33%
1977 12.73 13.28 - - 4.32 4.25 51.22% 52.50%
1978 13.38 13.38 - - 4.19 4.23 54.00% 52.68%
1979 14.03 13.48 - - 4.24 4.21 52.53% 52.85%
1980 13.34 13.57 - - 4.16 4.14 53.74% 53.03%
1981 13.58 13.67 - - 4.05 4.07 52.69% 53.20%
1982 13.34 13.52 - - 4.02 4.00 50.49% 53.38%
1983 13.28 13.36 - - 3.94 3.93 52.29% 53.55%
1984 13.47 13.21 - - 3.88 3.86 53.12% 53.72%
1985 13.33 13.06 - - 3.75 3.79 54.61% 53.90%
1986 12.47 12.91 - - 3.72 3.73 54.83% 54.07%
1987 13.21 12.76 - - 3.53 3.67 55.62% 54.24%
1988 12.14 12.61 - - 3.59 3.60 51.95% 54.41%
1989 12.13 12.47 - - 3.50 3.54 53.29% 54.58%
1990 12.67 12.33 - - 3.58 3.48 57.06% 54.75%
1991 12.17 12.18 - - 3.47 3.42 54.81% 54.92%
1992 11.97 12.04 11.71 11.86 3.34 3.36 54.50% 55.65%
1993 12.43 11.91 11.90 11.71 3.34 3.30 55.49% 56.37%
1994 11.72 11.77 11.44 11.56 3.15 3.22 59.27% 57.08%
1995 11.54 11.63 11.23 11.41 3.16 3.13 58.73% 57.78%
1996 11.78 11.50 11.50 11.26 3.03 3.04 57.87% 58.48%
1997 11.52 11.37 11.36 11.11 2.98 2.96 58.76% 59.17%
1998 11.24 11.24 11.08 10.97 2.96 2.88 57.33% 59.86%
1999 10.59 11.11 10.43 10.82 2.73 2.80 59.11% 60.53%
2000 10.77 10.98 10.59 10.68 2.69 2.73 62.16% 61.20%
2001 10.85 10.86 10.50 10.54 2.72 2.69 60.18% 61.86%
2002 11.14 10.73 10.71 10.41 2.68 2.66 61.94% 62.52%
2003 10.54 10.61 10.19 10.27 2.64 2.62 65.33% 63.16%
2004 10.85 10.69 10.39 10.32 2.61 2.59 65.10% 63.80%
2005 10.75 10.77 10.27 10.37 2.53 2.56 64.24% 64.43%
2006 10.80 10.86 10.23 10.43 2.48 2.52 65.27% 65.06%
2007 10.85 10.94 10.40 10.48 2.52 2.49 66.67% 65.67%
2008 11.03 11.02 10.69 10.53 2.45 2.46 66.68% 66.28%
2009 11.06 11.11 10.66 10.59 2.37 2.43 67.41% 66.88%
2010 10.97 11.19 10.53 10.64 2.47 2.44 69.12% 67.47%
2011 11.31 11.28 10.72 10.69 2.47 2.45 70.04% 68.05%
2012 11.21 11.37 10.74 10.75 2.49 2.47 67.69% 68.63%
2013 11.51 11.45 11.00 10.80 2.41 2.48 - 69.20%
2014 11.49 11.54 10.84 10.86 2.51 2.49 - 69.76%
2015 11.85 11.63 11.07 10.91 2.53 2.50 - 70.31%
2016 11.91 11.72 11.03 10.97 2.59 2.52 - 70.85%
2017 11.68 11.81 10.73 11.02 2.53 2.53 - 71.39%
2018 - - - - 2.47 2.54 - 71.92%

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 11.4 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 2013–2017 cases and 2014–2018 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 2015–2017 data.

Prevalence of This Cancer: In 2017, there were an estimated 383,415 people living with oral cavity and pharynx cancer in the United States.

Did You Know? Video Series

Survival Statistics

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.

66.2%

5-Year
Relative Survival

66.2%

Based on data from SEER 18 2010–2016. 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, 28.7% are diagnosed at the local stage. The 5-year relative survival for localized oral cavity and pharynx cancer is 85.1%.

Percent of Cases & 5-Year Relative Survival by Stage at Diagnosis: Oral Cavity and Pharynx Cancer
Stage Percent of Cases 5-Year Relative Survival
Localized
Confined to Primary Site
29% 85.1%
Regional
Spread to Regional Lymph Nodes
48% 66.8%
Distant
Cancer Has Metastasized
19% 40.1%
Unknown
Unstaged
4% 54.0%

SEER 18 2010–2016, 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
Cases 2020
Estimated
Deaths 2020
1. Breast Cancer (Female) 276,480 42,170
2. Lung and Bronchus Cancer 228,820 135,720
3. Prostate Cancer 191,930 33,330
4. Colorectal Cancer 147,950 53,200
5. Melanoma of the Skin 100,350 6,850
6. Bladder Cancer 81,400 17,980
7. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma 77,240 19,940
8. Kidney and Renal Pelvis Cancer 73,750 14,830
9. Uterine Cancer 65,620 12,590
10. Leukemia 60,530 23,100
- - -
Oral Cavity and Pharynx Cancer 53,260 10,750

Oral cavity and pharynx cancer represents 2.9% of all new cancer cases in the U.S.

2.9%

In 2020, it is estimated that there will be 53,260 new cases of oral cavity and pharynx cancer and an estimated 10,750 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 11.4 per 100,000 men and women per year based on 2013–2017 cases, age-adjusted.

Rate of New Cases per 100,000 Persons by Race/Ethnicity & Sex: Oral Cavity and Pharynx Cancer
Males
All Races 17.2
White 18.1
Black 13.3
Asian/Pacific Islander 12.1
American Indian/Alaska Native 11.7
Hispanic 10.0
Non-Hispanic 18.4
Females
All Races 6.4
White 6.6
Black 4.9
Asian/Pacific Islander 5.5
American Indian/Alaska Native 4.9
Hispanic 4.2
Non-Hispanic 6.8

SEER 21 2013–2017, Age-Adjusted

Percent of New Cases by Age Group: Oral Cavity and Pharynx Cancer
Age Range Percent of New Cases
<20 0.4%
20–34 1.9%
35–44 4.1%
45–54 16.0%
55–64 31.1%
65–74 26.0%
75–84 14.1%
>84 6.3%

Oral cavity and pharynx cancer is most frequently diagnosed among people aged 55–64.

Median Age
At Diagnosis

63

SEER 21 2013–2017, 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.

Death Rate per 100,000 Persons by Race/Ethnicity & Sex: Oral Cavity and Pharynx Cancer
Males
All Races 3.9
White 3.9
Black 4.4
Asian/Pacific Islander 3.2
American Indian/Alaska Native 3.5
Hispanic 2.4
Non-Hispanic 4.1
Females
All Races 1.3
White 1.4
Black 1.2
Asian/Pacific Islander 1.1
American Indian/Alaska Native 1.1
Hispanic 0.8
Non-Hispanic 1.4

U.S. 2014–2018, Age-Adjusted

Percent of Deaths by Age Group: Oral Cavity and Pharynx Cancer
Age Range Percent of Deaths
<20 0.1%
20–34 0.7%
35–44 1.8%
45–54 10.1%
55–64 26.8%
65–74 28.1%
75–84 19.6%
>84 12.9%

The percent of oral cavity and pharynx cancer deaths is highest among people aged 65–74.

Median Age
At Death

68

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 0.8% each year over 2008–2017. 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

With SEER*Explorer, you can...
  • Create custom graphs and tables
  • Download data and images
  • Share links to results

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: Oral Cavity Anatomy

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.

Additional Information

Related Stat Facts by Subtype

More Information

Here are some resources for learning more about oral cancer.

References

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.

Suggested Citation

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 2020 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.