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 also 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 51,540 adults (37,160 men and 14,380 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 eighth 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 10,030 deaths (7,280 men and 2,750 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. 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.

The overall 5-year survival rate for people with oral or oropharyngeal cancer is 65%. The 5-year survival rates for white people and black people with oral or oropharyngeal cancer are 66% and 48%, respectively. Research shows that survival rates are higher in patients who have HPV (See Risk Factors).

If the cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, the overall 5-year survival rate is 84%. For white people diagnosed at an early stage, the rate is 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 64%. If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, the overall 5-year survival rate is 39%.

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 any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's (ACS) publication, Cancer Facts and Figures 2017: Special Section – Rare Cancers in Adults, and the ACS website (January 2018).

The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers drawings of body parts often affected by oral and oropharyngeal cancer. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.