Oral and Oropharyngeal Cancer: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 09/2017

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the number of people who are diagnosed with oral and oropharyngeal cancer each year. You will read general information on surviving these diseases. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. Use the menu to see other pages.

This year, an estimated 49,670 adults (35,720 men and 13,950 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with oral and oropharyngeal cancer. Rates of these cancers are more than twice as high in men as in women. Cancer of the oral cavity is the ninth most common cancer among men. The average age of diagnosis is 62.

Overall, the number of men who develop these cancers has remained similar in recent years, and the number of women diagnosed with these cancers has decreased slightly. However, there has been an increase in HPV-related oral and oropharyngeal cancers among white men and women (see Risk Factors and Prevention).

It is estimated that 9,700 deaths (7,000 men and 2,700 women) from these 2 diseases will occur this year.

The 5-year survival rate tells you what percent of people live at least 5 years after the cancer is found. Percent means how many out of 100. The overall 5-year survival rate for people with oral or oropharyngeal cancer is 64%. The 5-year survival rates for white people and black people with oral or oropharyngeal cancer are 66% and 47%, respectively.

If the cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, the overall 5-year survival rate is 83%. For white people diagnosed at an early stage, the rate is also 83%. For black people diagnosed at an early stage, the survival rate is 79%. About 30% of oral and oropharyngeal cancers are diagnosed at this stage. If the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs and/or the regional lymph nodes, the overall 5-year survival rate is 63%. If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, the overall 5-year survival rate is 38%. Survival rates for oral and oropharyngeal cancer vary widely depending on the original location, whether the cancer is related to HPV, and the extent of the disease.

For oropharyngeal cancer, the 5-year survival rate is 43%. About 14% of people are diagnosed with the disease in its earliest stage, while 55% are diagnosed at the regional stage.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with oral and oropharyngeal cancer are an estimate. The estimate comes from annual data based the number of people with these cancers in the United States. Also, experts measure the survival statistics every 5 years. So the estimate may not show the results of better diagnosis or treatment available for less than 5 years. People should talk with their doctor if they have questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2017, and the ACS website.

The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers drawings of body parts often affected by these diseases. You may use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.