Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancer

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Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging TOPICS

Survival rates for oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer by stage

Survival rates are often used by doctors as a standard way of discussing a person’s prognosis (outlook). Some patients with cancer may want to know the survival statistics for people in similar situations, while others may not find the numbers helpful, or may even not want to know them. If you don’t want to read about the survival statistics below for oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer, stop reading here and skip to the next section.

The 5-year survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live at least 5 years after their cancer is diagnosed. Of course, many of these people live much longer than 5 years.

Five-year relative survival rates, such as the numbers below, assume that some people will die of other causes and compares the observed survival of people with cancer with that expected for people without cancer. This is a more accurate way to describe the impact that a particular type and stage of cancer may have on survival.

To get 5-year survival rates, doctors have to look at people who were treated at least 5 years ago. Improvements in treatment since then may result in a more favorable outlook for people now being diagnosed with these cancers.

Survival rates are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had the disease, but they cannot predict what will happen in any particular person’s case. Many other factors may affect a person’s outlook, such as the patient’s age and health, the treatment received, and how well the cancer responds to treatment. Your doctor can tell you how the numbers below may apply to you, as he or she is familiar with the aspects of your particular situation.

The following survival statistics come from the National Cancer Institute’s SEER program. They are based on large numbers of patients treated between 1988 and 2001.

Lip

    Stage

    5-Year Relative Survival Rate

 

    I

    96%

    II

    83%

    III

    57%

    IV

    48%

Tongue

    Stage

    5-Year Relative Survival Rate

 

    I

    71%

    II

    59%

    III

    47%

    IV

    37%

Floor of the mouth

    Stage

    5-Year Relative Survival Rate

 

    I

    73%

    II

    60%

    III

    36%

    IV

    30%

Gum and other mouth

    Stage

    5-Year Relative Survival Rate

 

    I

    81%

    II

    62%

    III

    45%

    IV

    40%

Oropharynx and tonsil

    Stage

    5-Year Relative Survival Rate

 

    I

    56%*

    II

    58%*

    III

    55%*

    IV

    43%

* For cancers of the oropharynx and tonsil, the 5-year survival rates for stages I, II, and III are essentially the same.


Last Medical Review: 02/26/2013
Last Revised: 02/06/2014