Increasing incidence and survival of head and neck cancers in Denmark: a nation-wide study from 1980 to 2014

Acta Oncol. 2018 Sep;57(9):1143-1151. doi: 10.1080/0284186X.2018.1438657. Epub 2018 Feb 15.


Background: The purpose of the study was to determine trends in age-adjusted incidence rates (AAIR) and survival probability in head and neck cancers (HNCs) in the Danish population from 1980 to 2014.

Material and methods: All patients registered with HNC in the nationwide Danish Cancer Registry from 1980 to 2014 were included. We evaluated the AAIR per 100,000 and the average annual percent change (AAPC). The relative survival probability at 5 years was calculated in relation to gender, anatomical location and histology, and we constructed age-period-cohort models of incidence.

Results: About 34,606 patients were included (64.7% men). The AAIR increased from 9.1 per 100,000 in 1980 to 17.4 per 100,000 in 2014 with an AAPC of 2.1%. The greatest incidence increase was observed in oropharyngeal cancer (AAPC: 5.4%) followed by hypopharyngeal cancer (AAPC: 4.2%). Adenocarcinomas had the highest AAPC (5.0%) followed by squamous cell carcinomas (AAPC: 2.0%). The AAPC was significantly higher in women (2.4%) compared with men (1.6%). For all HNC patients, the relative survival at 5 years rose significantly from 49.0% in 1980-1984 to 62.4% in 2010-2014. Women had a significantly higher survival than men with a relative survival of 61.7% compared to 50.0% in men. Laryngeal cancer had the best survival probability of cancers in the upper aerodigestive tract with hypopharyngeal cancer having the poorest survival.

Conclusion: This nation-wide study showed a significant rise in incidence of HNC for men and women along with a significant increase in relative survival. Oropharyngeal cancer had the highest increase in incidence followed by hypopharyngeal cancer which showed the poorest survival of HNCs.

MeSH terms

  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / classification
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Registries
  • Survival Rate / trends