Background/Purpose: Oral cancer is one of the fastest increasing malignancies in Taiwan. Among the counties on the island, Changhua has been ranked in the top three in the list of oral cancer incidence. This study was performed to better characterize the epidemiology of oral cancer in Changhua county. Methods: We used the complete registered records of oral cancer from the Department of Health data bank, and studied the trends in incidence rate, age of distribution, and anatomic sites of oral cancer in Taiwan. In addition, we correlated the incidence rate with known risk factors (betel quid chewing, smoking and alcohol drinking) by regression analysis. Results: Among neoplasms, oral cancer is one of the fastest increasing malignancies in Taiwan. In the past two decades from 1982 to 2001, Taiwan had an alarming 5.3-fold increase in the incidence of male oral cancer. Among the 23 counties, Changhua has ranked top in oral cancer incidence in recent years. The incidence of male oral cancer in Changhua is also among the highest in the world (45.07/105/year in 2001). The most common site was the buccal mucosa, while it was the tongue in other counties. Finally, Changhua was the only outlier in our regression model, indicating that possible interference factors may interact with oral cancer incidence and prevalence of betel quid chewing in Changhua. Conclusion: We conclude that the high incidence and buccal mucosa preponderance of oral cancer in Changhua may have an exceptionally dose relation with patients' betel quid chewing habit, and other unknown etiologic factors may also be present locally.
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