Objective To describe trends in mortality rates for patients with oral cavity and pharynx cancer by educational attainment, race/ethnicity, sex, and association with human papillomavirus infection.
Design Study of age-standardized mortality rates for patients with oral cavity and pharynx cancer by level of education using National Center for Health Statistics data.
Setting Twenty-six states.
Patients White and black men and women aged 25 to 64 years.
Main Outcome Measure Age-standardized mortality rates for 2005 to 2007 and trends for 1993 to 2007.
Results From 1993 to 2007, overall mortality rates for patients with oral cavity and pharynx cancer decreased among black and white men and women; however, rates among white men have stabilized since 1999. The largest decreases in mortality rates were among black men and women with 12 years of education (−4.95% and −3.72%, respectively). Mortality rates for patients with oral cavity and pharynx cancers decreased significantly among men and women with more than 12 years of education, regardless of race/ethnicity (except for black women), whereas rates increased among white men with less than 12 years of education. Mortality trends vary substantially for human papillomavirus–related and human papillomavirus–unrelated sites.
Conclusions We observed decreasing mortality rates for patients with oral cavity and pharyngeal cancer among whites and blacks; however, decreases were greatest among those with at least 12 years of education. This difference in mortality trends may reflect the changing prevalence of smoking and sexual behaviors among populations of different educational attainment.