Mouth and oral cancers refer to cancers that develop in different places in the mouth, such as the tongue, mouth lining, lips or gums, or in the back of the throat.
Cancers of the lip, oral cavity, hypopharynx, oropharynx and larynx are known collectively as mouth and oral cancers. Of these, cancers of the lip and oral cavity are the most common, with more than 377,700 cases worldwide in 2020.
Lip and oral cavity cancers are the 16th most common cancers overall, the 11th most common cancers in men and the 18th most common cancers in women.
The 10 countries with the highest rates of mouth and oral cancers combined and the highest number of deaths from mouth and oral cancers combined in 2020 are shown in the tables below.
ASR = age-standardised rates: These are a summary measure of the rate of disease that a population would have if it had a standard age structure. Standardisation is necessary when comparing populations that differ with respect to age, because age has a powerful influence on the risk of dying from cancer.
The following 3 tables show total global mouth and oral cancer incidence and rates in 2020, followed by the figures for men and women. Papua New Guinea had the highest overall rate of mouth and oral cancers in 2020, followed by Bangladesh.
|1||Papua New Guinea||1,480||25.7|
|1||Papua New Guinea||959||36.6|
|1||Papua New Guinea||521||16.0|
The following 3 tables show total global mouth and oral cancer mortality in 2020, followed by the figures for men and women. Bangladesh had the highest overall mortality rate from mouth and oral cancers in 2020, followed by Papua New Guinea.
|2||Papua New Guinea||588||11.1|
|5||Papua New Guinea||422||17.2|
|3||Papua New Guinea||166||5.6|
It is estimated that as much as 90% of mouth cancers worldwide are attributable to tobacco use, alcohol consumption or a combination of both. There is evidence that the following are associated with an increased risk of mouth and oral cancers: oral infection with high-risk human papilloma viruses and environmental exposure to asbestos.
There is strong evidence that:
There is some evidence that:
> Read more about what can cause and what can protect against mouth and oral cancers
The data on this page comes from the Global Cancer Observatory, owned by the World Health Organization/International Agency for Research on Cancer, and is used with permission. The cancer incidence figures and ASRs were compiled using the data available here (last accessed 23 March 2022). For queries about our cancer statistics please email the Research Interpretation team: firstname.lastname@example.org.