In 2014, there were an estimated 346,902 people living with oral cavity and pharynx cancer in the United States. For oral cancer, death rates are higher among males, particularly those of African American descent. For oral cavity and pharynx cancer, 29.8% are diagnosed at the local stage. The 5-year survival for localized oral cavity and pharynx cancer is 83.7% (13).
Patients with early stages (T1–T2, N0) of squamous epithelial carcinomas have a relatively good prognosis. Survival is reduced in cases of locally advanced cancer (T3–T4), and with the presence of lymph node metastases in the neck.
With spreading of lymph nodes in the neck, the disease-specific survival is halved compared to the same T-stage without spreading. Increasing N-category also increases the risk for distant metastases.
Five to ten percent will develop distant metastasis later in the disease course. Autopsy material shows a higher frequency (2).
Confirmed distant metastasis at presentation usually eliminates curative treatment. The prognosis for locoregional recurrence is 20% survival after five years (2).
Quality of life for patients after treatment for pharyngeal tumors is significantly reduced (11).
Five-year relative survival for patients with pharynx cancer, in percent, during the diagnosis period 1974–2013.
Source: Cancer Registry of Norway