OBJECTIVES: To explore changes in distribution of stage at diagnosis among individuals with oral and pharyngeal cancers over the past two decades and whether the changes differ by race.
METHODS: We obtained 1991-2008 cancer incidence data for nine anatomic sites of the oral and pharyngeal structure from the Florida Cancer Data System. These cancers were grouped into oral squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), pharyngeal SCC, and other head and neck cancers. Annual percent change was calculated for each group to characterize trends in age-adjusted cancer incidence over time by race and stage at diagnosis.
RESULTS: During 1991-2008, the overall age-adjusted oral SCC incidence was decreasing for both races, with a greater decline observed among Blacks. There was a large drop in incidence of regional-stage diagnoses among Blacks. For pharyngeal SCC, the age-adjusted incidence of localized- and regional-stage diagnoses was increasing for Whites during 1991-2008, with the largest increase in the incidence of regional-stage diagnoses. The percentage of localized-stage diagnoses was increasing for both races for oral SCC. A slight increase in percentage of localized-stage diagnoses was observed for Blacks for pharyngeal SCC, whereas no obvious change was observed among Whites.
CONCLUSIONS: Blacks continued to have lower percentages of localized-stage diagnoses than Whites for nearly all sites, but an increasing percentage of localized-stage diagnoses was observed for oral SCC among Blacks. For pharyngeal SCC, the increase in incidence among Whites was accompanied by an increasing percentage of late-stage diagnoses. Coordinated public health approaches with a special emphasis on screening underserved populations are needed.