Decreased Global Interest in Oral Cancer During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Document Type : Research Articles


1 School of Dentistry, Southwestern University PHINMA, Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines.

2 Department of Stomatognathic Function and Occlusal Reconstruction, Tokushima University Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Tokushima City, Tokushima, Japan.


Objective: Oral cancer is one of the most common malignancies in developing countries, but studies using global data are scarce. The aim of this study is to analyze the search interests for oral cancer using mouth cancer, tongue cancer, gum cancer, and lip cancer as common keywords. Methods: Internet searches relating to oral cancer from 2010 to 2020, from 250 countries and dependent areas, were retrieved from Google Trends. Color densities in a heat map were used to show geographic differences. Kruskal-Wallis test with post hoc Dunn’s analysis was used to perform yearly comparisons of searches for mouth cancer, tongue cancer, gum cancer, and lip cancer. Search results within 2020 were also compared to determine differences. Forecasting searches from 2021 to 2022 were done by fitting time series models. Results: From 29 of 250 (11.6%) countries, the highest search values were observed for mouth cancer in Sri Lanka, Qatar, Bangladesh, Finland, Netherlands, Spain, and France. Compared to 2020, greater searches were seen in 2018 (Mdn = 91%, P = 0.023) and 2019 (Mdn = 94%, P = 0.012) for mouth cancer, and 2019 (Mdn = 17%, P = 0.035) for lip cancer. The relative search volumes for gum cancer and lip cancer were substantially lower than mouth cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic. Conclusion: Higher-income countries tend to be more interested in seeking information about oral cancer. Noteworthy decline in the interest in seeking information online for oral cancer may have crucial implications during the COVID-19 pandemic. Google Trends offer an invaluable and inexpensive means for oral cancer surveillance and health-seeking behavior. 


Main Subjects