Recent Drop Seen in Oral, Pharyngeal Cancer Mortality

Largest decrease seen in black men and women with 12 years of education

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 23 (HealthDay News) -- From 1993 to 2007, mortality rates decreased for black and white men and women with oral cavity and pharyngeal cancer, with a significant decline seen among those with more than 12 years of education, according to a study published in the November issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery.

Amy Y. Chen, M.D., M.P.H., from the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, and colleagues investigated trends in mortality rates among patients with oral cavity and pharyngeal cancer from 1993 to 2007. Data were collected for white and black men and women, between the ages of 25 and 64 years, from 26 states. The associations of mortality with educational attainment, race/ethnicity, gender, and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection were assessed.

The investigators found that overall mortality rates decreased in black and white men and women with oral cavity and pharynx cancer from 1997 to 2003; however, since 1999, rates stabilized among white men. Black men and women with 12 years of education had the largest decreases in mortality (−4.95 and −3.72 percent, respectively). With the exception of black women, there was a significant decrease in mortality rates for men and women with more than 12 years of education, irrespective of race/ethnicity, while increased rates were seen for white men with less than 12 years of education. Substantial variation was seen in mortality trends for HPV-related and HPV-unrelated sites.

"We observed decreasing mortality rates among whites and blacks; however, decreases were greatest among those with at least 12 years of education," the authors write.

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