OBJECTIVE: To describe trends in the epidemiology of oral
and of oro-pharyngeal (OAP) cancers in South Africa for the
latest period available.
METHODS: Data were obtained from the South African pathology-
based National Cancer Registry. All new cases of
OAP cancers diagnosed and confirmed histologically from
1992 to 2001 are included for the ICD-10 sites C00 to C14,
excluding those involving the major salivary glands (C07-
C08) and the nasopharynx (C11). OAP cancer incidence is
reported by demographics (gender, age, race/ethnicity) and
the anatomical sites involved. The analysis on anatomical
sites was restricted to squamous cell carcinomas.
RESULTS: Overall, males had a much higher OAP cancer
incidence rate (world age-Standardised incidence rate
[ASIR]= 7.01/100 000 per year) than females (ASIR=1.99).
However, among Asian/Indian South Africans, OAP cancer
incidence was higher among females (ASIR=4.60)
than among males (ASIR=3.80). OAP cancer, excluding
those involving the lip, was highest among Coloureds
(ASIR=5.72) and lowest among Blacks (ASIR=3.16). OAP
cancer incidence was stable overall, but incidence rates
increased significantly among Coloured South Africans
over the period under review (p≤0.05). Cancer specifically
involving the oro-pharyngeal was most common among
Coloureds and showed an increasing trend during the period
under review. CONCLUSIONS: Variations in the incidence of OAP cancers by gender, race/ethnicity and anatomic site indicate a
need for culturally-targeted reductions in major risk factors,
including promoting tobacco cessation and prevention of risky alcohol use. The implications of the role of the human papillomavirus (HPV) in the prevention of squamous cell carcinomas involving the oro-pharyngeal in South Africa require further investigation.
The authors thank Patricia Kellet for her valuable support in extracting
the data and the National Cancer Registry for making the