Head and Neck Cancer Statistics

Head and neck cancers are malignancies that arise in the oral cavity, pharynx, and larynx. It is the sixth most common type of cancer in the worldwide, representing about 6% of all cancer cases (Parkin DM, 2005). Worldwide, more than half a million head and neck cancer cases and 320,000 deaths due to head and neck cancer are estimated to occur each year (Globocan 2008). The half million cases are comprised of 263,861 oral cavity cancers, 135,685 pharyngeal cancers and 151,219 laryngeal cancers.

The head and neck cancer incidence in East Asia is one of the lowest in the world (at 3.5 cases per 100,000 people). However, more cases occur in East Asia (68,481, cases) than in high incidence regions such as Central and Eastern Europe (51,154 cases) because of the large population. Additionally, the incidence rate in Taiwan is very high (22.7 per 100,000 as shown in the table below).

Population Cases per year Crude Rate Age standardized Rate (World) Cumulative risk
Eastern Asia 68481 4.4 3.5 0.43
China 43269 3.2 2.8 0.35
Japan 14388 11.3 5.0 0.59
South Korea 721 3.0 2.5 0.31
North Korea 3078 6.4 4.8 0.59
Mongolia 91 3.4 5.3 0.68
Chinese Taipei 6935 29.9 22.7 2.43

Most of the epidemiologic studies on head and neck cancer have been conducted in North America, Europe, and Southeast Asia where the head and neck cancer incidence rates are high. There are no large-scale epidemiologic studies of head and neck cancer in East Asia, with the exception of studies in Japan.

Thus the aim of our study team is to conduct a new large-scale epidemiologic study of head and neck cancer in East Asia.


Ferlay J, Shin HR, Bray F, Forman D, Mathers C and Parkin DM. GLOBOCAN 2008, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 10[Internet]. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2010. Available from: http://globocan.iarc.fr