, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 153-164

Improved survival among patients with base of tongue and tonsil cancer in the United States

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To examine if survival has changed over the last 20 years in patients with base of tongue and tonsil cancers in the United States.


Using SEER data, we employed Kaplan–Meier method to draw survival curves and calculate survival rates, and estimated adjusted hazard ratios (HR).


From the 1980s to the 2000s, the 5-year overall survival rates statistically significantly improved by 100% from 25 to 51% among patients with one primary base of tongue cancer and 28–60% among those with one primary tonsil cancer (p values for trend <0.001). In addition, the 5-year cancer-specific survival improved by 222.4 and 276%, respectively, among two types of patients. Survival improvement was more pronounced among male patients than among female patients regardless of young or old age, while the improvement was generally consistent among patients with different tumor stages and treatment methods. In contrast, however, those patients with subsequent multiple cancers showed no improvement in overall survival over time.


The survival of patients with base of tongue and tonsil cancer has significantly improved over the last decades in the United States. Whether the improvement is associated with HPV infection, screening, or early detection is worthy to study in future.