BACKGROUND: Globally, a decline in the incidence of oral cancer has been noted, while the mortality rates have remained relatively stable. The aim of this study was to provide an update on the incidence and mortality of oral cancer in Australia on a national and state level.
METHODS: Data regarding new cases and deaths associated with cancer of the lip, oral cavity and oropharynx were obtained from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare for the period 1982-2008. Crude- and age-standardized incidence and mortality rates were calculated for all of Australia and for each state and territory.
RESULTS: A total of 60 826 cases of lip, oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer were diagnosed in Australia. Between 1992 and 2008, a decline in the annual percentage change of age-standardized incidence was noted. The lip, followed by the tongue, continue to represent the most common sites of new oral cancer cases. There was no significant change in the rates of mortality for oral cancer over the time period.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings show that the oral cancer mortality rate remains high despite a decline in incidence over the past three decades, highlighting a greater need for dental practitioners to undertake preventive strategies and opportunistic screening for patients.