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J Public Health Dent. 1996 Fall;56(6):309-18.

Cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx in the United States: an epidemiologic overview.



This paper reviews and summarizes recent epidemiologic data on the incidence, mortality, and survival of cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx. It identifies gaps in the science base, discusses emerging trends, and points out opportunities through which the epidemiology of these cancers can be understood better.


Primary data sources were SEER incidence and survival data from 1973-92 and NCHS mortality data from the same period.


In general, the incidence, mortality, and survival rates for oral and pharyngeal cancers are well documented by existing national data; however, gaps in coverage still exist with respect to geographic, racial, and ethnic information. Overall, trends in the occurrence of these cancer types since 1973 have revealed modest improvements in incidence, more substantial improvements in mortality, and little change in survival. However, these trends varied by race, sex, and anatomic subsites.


Demographic changes will greatly influence the epidemiology of oral and pharyngeal cancer in coming decades. For older Americans, these cancer types are likely to remain a serious and perhaps increasing problem. Understanding of these cancers can be furthered by continued analysis of existing databases and the creation of new data sources for the future.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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