Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 22, Issue 5, pp 753–763 | Cite as

Oropharyngeal cancer incidence trends: diminishing racial disparities

  • Linda Morris Brown
  • David P. Check
  • Susan S. Devesa
Original paper



The aim of this article is to evaluate oral cavity/pharyngeal cancer (OCPC) trends that may reflect changes in cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.


We used Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program data for 58,204 cases diagnosed during 1977–2007 to classify if squamous cell carcinomas of the OCP by anatomic site are potentially HPV-related.


OCPC rates among men peaked during 1982–1986 before declining, most rapidly (46%) among blacks. Rates decreased least rapidly among white males while declining at intermediate paces among other ethnic groups (Asian/Pacific Islanders and Hispanics) and females. Among the men during the recent 16-year time period, the annual percent change for HPV-unrelated sites was much steeper [−6.0% (95% CI = −7.2 to −4.9)] among blacks than whites [−2.5% (95% CI = −2.9 to −2.1)]; for HPV-related sites, it was −1.7% (95% CI = −2.6 to −0.7) among blacks, in striking contrast to +3.3% (95% CI = 2.5–4.0) among whites. HPV-related rates rose rapidly among the white men born since the mid-1940s, tripling among those aged 25–44 and recently surpassing the black male rate. Relative survival rates rose over the study period due to improvements among HPV-related cases.


The OCPC decreases found among all the race/sex groups reflect reductions in smoking prevalence and alcohol consumption. Rising HPV-related cancers among white men may reflect changes in sexual practices since the mid-1960s.


Oropharyngeal cancer Human papillomavirus (HPV) Descriptive epidemiology Incidence Health disparities 



This study was supported by the Intramural Program of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and National Institutes of Health.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. (outside the USA) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linda Morris Brown
    • 1
    • 2
  • David P. Check
    • 2
  • Susan S. Devesa
    • 2
  1. 1.RTI InternationalRockvilleUSA
  2. 2.Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human ServicesBethesdaUSA

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