The epidemiology of oral cancer

The British Journal of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
I HindlePaul M Speight

Abstract

To examine the epidemiology of oral cancer in England and Wales from 1901 to 1990 using trends in mortality and incidence rates. Data were obtained from OPCS archives for mortality and incidence of malignant neoplasia of the oral cavity (ICD 141, 143-146). Age-specific and age-standardised rates were calculated for both genders. Mortality data were available from 1901 but national incidence figures only commenced in 1962. Despite overall reductions for oral cancer in England and Wales during this century, significant increases in mortality and incidence have occurred in younger males during the last 30 years. These are associated with clear birth cohorts. No such cohort effects are apparent in females, despite similar though less pronounced trends. These results support similar studies in other parts of the UK and Europe. In the future there may be a substantial increase in the burden of new cases of oral cancer as birth cohorts with rising incidence rates enter age groups with higher disease frequencies. It is possible that raised alcohol consumption during the last 40 years may be responsible for the increases. This report reinforces the necessity to evaluate preventive programmes for oral cancer in the UK.

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