• Europe;
  • mortality;
  • oral and pharyngeal cancer;
  • trends


To monitor recent trends in oral and pharyngeal cancer mortality in 38 European countries, we analyzed data provided by the World Health Organization over the period 1975–2004. Joinpoint analysis was used to identify significant changes in trends. In the European Union (EU), male mortality rates rose by 2.1% per year between 1975 and 1984, by 1.0% between 1984 and 1993, and declined by 1.3% between 1993 and 2004, to reach an overall age-standardized rate of 6.1/100,000 in 2000–2004. Mortality rates were much lower in women, and the rate in the EU rose by 0.9% per year up to 2000, and levelled off to 1.1/100,000 in 2000–2004. In France and Italy—which had the highest rates in the past—male rates have steadily declined during the last two decades (annual percent change, APC = −4.8% in 1998–2004 in France and −2.6% in 1986–2003 in Italy). Persisting rises were, however, observed in several central and eastern European countries, with exceedingly high rates in Hungary (21.1/100,000; APC = 6.9% in 1975–1993 and 1.4% in 1993–2004) and Slovakia (16.9/100,000; APC = 0.14% in 1992–2004). In middle aged (35 to 64) men, oral and pharyngeal cancer mortality rates in Hungary (55.3/100,000) and Slovakia (40.8/100,000) were comparable to lung cancer rates in several major European countries. The highest rates for women were in Hungary (3.3/100,000; APC = 4.7% in 1975–2004) and Denmark (1.6/100,000; APC = 1.3% in 1975–2001). Oral and pharyngeal cancer mortality essentially reflects the different patterns in tobacco smoking and alcohol drinking, including drinking patterns and type of alcohol in central Europe.