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Aust N Z J Public Health. 2015 Apr;39(2):162-7. doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.12352.

Sociodemographic differences in the incidence of oropharyngeal and oral cavity squamous cell cancers in New Zealand.

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Section of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Population Health, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, New Zealand; Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, School of Medicine, University of Auckland, New Zealand.



To determine whether the incidence of oropharyngeal and oral cavity squamous cell cancers differs by subsite, age, gender, ethnicity and social deprivation.


Using data from the New Zealand cancer registry, a retrospective review was undertaken of incident cases with a histological diagnosis of invasive squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) in the oral cavity or oropharynx.


During the period 1981-2010, rates of oropharyngeal cancers (OPC) and oral cavity cancers (OCC) were higher among males and increased with age. The rapid rise in male OPCs was observed in those aged 40-49, 50-59, 60-69 and ≥70 years old. Overall and by gender, Māori had higher OPC rates but lower OCC rates than European/other ethnicities, whereas the inverse was apparent among Pacific Peoples. An upward trend in OPC and OCC rates with increasing deprivation was observed both overall and by gender.


The recent rapid rise in male oropharyngeal SCCs occurred primarily among those aged ≥40 years old.


Given oropharyngeal SCCs are more strongly associated with human papillomaviruses (HPV) than OCCs, OPC prevention may be enhanced through HPV vaccination and public health awareness. Clinically, as HPV-related OPCs have a better prognosis and response to radiotherapy, an improvement in survival rates can be predicted.


demographic factors; incidence; oral cavity cancer; oropharyngeal cancer

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