How Common is Oral Cancer?

How Common is Oral Cancer?

The incidence of oral cancer varies markedly world-wide but, globally, it is the eighth
most common malignant tumour. The Indian subcontinent shows very high rates, with the disease accounting for up to 40% of all malignancies. In the United Kingdom, there are approximately 3,500 new cases of oral cancer diagnosed each year, and oral cancers account for between 1% and 4% of all malignancies.

Incidence in Scotland

Currently, over 500 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each year in Scotland.
Oral cancer is twice as common amongst males as females, and the Scottish incidence rates of approximately 14 per 100,000 in males and 7 per 100,000 in females are almost double those seen in England.

Age Distribution

Approximately 85% of new cases of oral cancer occur in people aged over 50 years. However, recent reports have shown increasing numbers presenting at an earlier age.
Thus, oral cancer should not be considered a disease affecting only the elderly. There must be an appreciation that the disease can occur at any age.

Age-specific Incidence Rates of Oral Cancer in Scotland per 100,000 Person-years at Risk (1990-99)

Trends in Incidence of Oral Cancer

Since the early 1970s, oral cancer rates have been increasing. During the period 1990-99, the incidence rate of oral cancer in Scotland increased by 34% in both males and females. The rise has been particularly evident among younger age groups, possibly due to changing patterns of alcohol consumption and tobacco use.