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The changing epidemiology of oral cancer: definitions, trends, and risk factors

Conway, D I, Purkayastha, M and Chestnutt, Ivor ORCID: 2018. The changing epidemiology of oral cancer: definitions, trends, and risk factors. British Dental Journal 225 , pp. 867-873. 10.1038/sj.bdj.2018.922

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Objective This review has three objectives, namely: (i) to discuss how oral cancer is and ought to be defined and recorded; (ii) to present up-to-date data on the incidence burden of the disease in the four countries of the UK, and review recent analyses of trends in the disease; and (iii) to summarise recent evidence on risk factors of the disease. Methods Cancer definitions were clarified by the International Classification of Diseases accounting for anatomical and aetiological differences; descriptive epidemiology included international / UK literature review and information requests for incidence data from the UK cancer registries (2000-2016); analytical epidemiology focused on reviewing the findings of the International Head and Neck Cancer Epidemiology (INHANCE) consortium, which has pooled data from multiple case-control studies providing the best estimates of risk factors. Results Emerging evidence of the role played by risk factors in different anatomical sites means that oral cavity cancer and oropharynx cancer should be considered distinct disease entities – and a standardised attribution of anatomical subsites will be helpful in ensuring consistency in how data are presented. In 2016, over 3,700 people were diagnosed with oral cavity cancer and over 3,500 people were diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancer in the UK. Incidence of oropharyngeal cancer is rapidly rising across the UK. Rates of oral cavity cancer are higher in Northern Ireland and higher still (and relatively stable) in Scotland, but rising in England and Wales. INHANCE data show that while the consumption of alcohol and tobacco are the prime risk factors for oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers, they provide greater certainty in the preventive benefits of reducing these risk factors. The role played by other factors such as low socioeconomic status, genetics, oral health, and human papillomavirus (only for oropharyngeal cancer) have become clearer. Conclusions This epidemiology provides a strong foundation for designing and managing both population and individual oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer control strategies.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Dentistry
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
ISSN: 0007-0610
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 28 November 2018
Date of Acceptance: 9 October 2018
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2023 20:25

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