Key Things to Know

Who is this calculator for?

This calculator does not apply to people who have HPV positive cancers. HPV is not associated with oral cancer. HPV is associated with cancers of the tonsils, tongue base, and nasopharynx. The calculator is for people who have recently been diagnosed with oral cancer, and:

  • have not had any other cancers except skin cancer.
  • whose cancer type is squamous cell carcinoma. About 90% of oral cavity cancers are this type.
  • whose cancer is located in the mouth area. See the picture below.
    • Not included are cancers of the oropharynx (tonsils and base of tongue), the larynx (the voice box), or the hypopharynx (lower throat).

Oral cancer includes the parts of the oral cavity shown below:

Diagram of an open mouth showing the different areas included in oral cancer.

  • Hard Palate: roof of mouth.
  • Alveolar ridge – upper and lower: The gums – the area right around the teeth and that sits on upper and lower jawbone.
  • Oral tongue: Front 2/3 of tongue - the parts that are in front of the bumpy areas at the back of the tongue.
  • Vestibule of Mouth: inner lip area.
  • Retromolar Trigone: soft tissue area where upper and lower jaw bone regions come together.
  • Buccal mucosa: Inner cheek lining.
  • Floor of mouth: Area underneath the tongue.

Which parts are NOT included in this calculator?

  • This calculator does not include cancers of the oropharynx (tonsils and base of tongue), the larynx (the voice box), or the hypopharynx (lower throat).
  • The prognosis of cancers located in the head and neck vary a lot by site, so it is important to separate then into their logical groupings. Reasons for the different prognosis include risk factorsdifferent risk factors and anatomic boundariesnatural anatomic boundaries.

More information about areas not included in oral cancer

What does this calculator do?

This calculator provides several kinds of survival estimates:

  • the person’s life expectancy if he or she had not been diagnosed with oral cancer;
  • The estimated likelihood, within 1‒10 years after being diagnosed with oral cancer, that:
    • the person will be alive
    • the person will die of their oral cancer
    • the person will die of something other than their oral cancer

What does this calculator NOT do

The Oral Cancer Survival Calculator does not predict survival by treatment choice, such as surgery versus radiation. Additional limitations of the calculator are discussed at Limitations of the Oral Cancer Survival Calculator.

See Resources section for information about alternative survival calculators and additional resources for people with oral cancer.

What information do I need to use the calculator?

Age at Diagnosis: Estimates only available for ages 20‒86

Race/Ethnicity: White Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander Non-Hispanic, or Hispanic

Sex: Male, Female

Marital Status: Not Married or Married

Place of Residence: Optional - characteristics of residence are used

Basis For Determining Cancer Stage*: Clinical Exam and Imaging, or Surgical Pathology

Stage of Disease at Initial Diagnosis (not recurrence)*:

  • Elements to calculate the stage using AJCC6 standards: The size of the primary tumor and involvement of nearby structures, number and size of lymph nodes involved, presence or absence of metastases outside the head and neck region
The oral cancer survival calculator uses AJCC 6th edition staging (PDF) because that is the staging system used in the SEER cancer registry for the included cases.

Grade of the Cancer*: Cannot Be ( or was not) Assessed, Well Differentiated, Moderately Differentiated, Poorly Differentiated, or Undifferentiated

Health Status:

  • Coexisting Health Conditions* (presence or absence of 15 common health conditions), if this information is known.
  • Overall Self - Assessed Health Status (Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor) and Smoking Status (Current, Former, Never)
  • Note: If you are under 40 years of age, then the above information is not required.

* A healthcare professional can provide this information.