BACKGROUND: Downward trends have been observed in oral cancer incidence and mortality in the US over the past 30 years; however, these declines are not uniform within this population. Several studies have now demonstrated an increase in the incidence and mortality from oral cancers among certain demographic groups, which may have resulted from increased risks or risk behaviors. This study examines the underlying data that comprise these trends, to identify specific populations that may be at greater risk for morbidity and mortality from oral cancers.
METHODS: Oral cancer incidence and mortality data analyzed for this study were generated using the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program.
RESULTS: While oral cancer incidence and mortality rates have been declining over the past thirty years, these declines have reversed in the past five years among some demographic groups, including black females and white males. Sorting of these data by state revealed that eight states exhibited increasing rates of oral cancer deaths, Nevada, North Carolina, Iowa, Ohio, Maine, Idaho, North Dakota, and Wyoming, in stark contrast to the national downward trend. Furthermore, a detailed analysis of data from these states revealed increasing rates of oral cancer among older white males, also contrary to the overall trends observed at the national level.
CONCLUSION: These results signify that, despite the declining long-term trends in oral cancer incidence and mortality nationally, localized geographic areas exist where the incidence and mortality from oral cancers have been increasing. These areas represent sites where public health education and prevention efforts may be focused to target these specific populations in an effort to improve health outcomes and reduce disparities within these populations.