Background: Israeli Arabs are considered as a developing society characterized by poverty and high levels of smoking among men. The purpose of this study was to describe their incidence, mortality and survival rates for oral and pharyngeal cancer between the years 1970-2006. Studies such as this in the Arab world, where the population is almost the same as the Arab population in Israel, are rare.
Methods: The incidence and survival data were derived from all relevant registered data at the National Cancer Registry. The group of lesions included cancer of the lips, tongue, buccal mucosa, floor of the mouth, salivary glands, gums, palate and pharynx. Morphological description was according to WHO classification.
Results: Most diagnosed patients were male. The mean age was 54.4 years, and mean years of survival were 3.83. The oropharynx was the most common site (28.3%) while the palate was the least frequent (3.12%). Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) was the most common histological feature (66.3%), while basal cell carcinoma (BCC) was the least (3.9%). The overall 5 years survival rate was 59.4%, this being highest for BCC (82.1%), while SCC was significantly lower (56.2%) (p<0.001). Lip cancers survived better than other sites.
Conclusions: Data from this society are similar to other developing societies in the majority of the results. The incidence of oral and pharyngeal cancer is lower among the Arab population, in comparison to the Jewish population in Israel.