Survival statistics for salivary gland cancer | Cancer Research UK
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A quick guide to what’s on this page

Statistics and outlook for salivary gland cancer

Outlook means your chances of getting better. Doctors call this prognosis. With salivary gland cancer, the likely outcome depends on how advanced the cancer is when it is diagnosed (the stage). The outlook also depends on which type you have and which salivary gland is affected.

Further down this page, we have quite detailed information about the likely outcome of different stages of salivary gland cancer. We include statistics because people ask for them, but not everyone wants to read this type of information. The statistics we use are taken from a variety of sources, including the opinions and experience of the experts who check every section of this website. They are intended as a general guide only. For the complete picture in your case, you’d have to speak to your own specialist.

How reliable are cancer statistics?

No statistics can tell you what will happen to you. Your cancer is unique. The same type of cancer can grow at different rates in different people. The statistics cannot tell you about the different treatments people may have had, or how that treatment may have affected their prognosis. There are many individual factors that will affect your treatment and your outlook.


CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the Treating salivary gland cancer section.



Salivary gland cancer survival

Find out about survival for salivary gland cancer.

People ask us for this information but not everyone with cancer wants to read it. So, if you aren’t sure whether you want to know at the moment, you can come back to it later.

Statistics for salivary gland cancer are harder to estimate than for other, less rare cancers. Some of the statistics have to be based on a small number of people. They can’t tell you what will happen in your individual case. 

No one can tell you exactly how long you’ll live with salivary gland cancer. It depends on your individual situation, treatment and level of fitness.

Your doctor can give you more information about your own outlook (prognosis). Or you can talk to the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday.


Survival by stage for major salivary cancers

There are no UK wide statistics available for major salivary gland cancer survival by stage. 

The statistics below are American. They are based on people diagnosed with cancer of the major salivary glands between 1998 and 1999. Please be aware that due to differences in health care systems, data collection and the population, these figures are not a true picture of survival in the UK.

Stage 1 

Around 90 out of 100 people (around 90%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed. 

Stage 2 

Around 75 out of 100 people (around 75%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis. 

Stage 3 

65 out of 100 people (65%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed. 

Stage 4 

Around 40 out of 100 people (around 40%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.


Survival by stage for minor salivary gland cancer

Minor salivary gland cancers are very rare. So survival figures are harder to find. The figures below come from 2 small studies, one American and the other European. 

Generally for people with minor salivary gland cancer

  • between 50 and 60 out of 100 (50 to 60%) survive for 10 years or more after their diagnosis 

The stage of the cancer affects the outlook. 

Stage 1 

Around 80 out of 100 people (around 80%) survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis 

Stage 2 

Around 70 out of 100 people (around 70%) survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis

Stage 3 

Around 60 out of 100 people (around 60%) survive for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed 

Stage 4 

Around 30 out of 100 people (around 30%) survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis


Survival for all types and stages of salivary cancer

No UK-wide statistics are available for salivary cancer survival in the UK. The following statistic comes from the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN).

Overall, for all people with salivary gland cancer in England

  • around 70 out of 100 (around 70%) will survive their cancer for 5 or more years after they are diagnosed

What affects survival

Your outcome depends on the stage of the cancer when it was diagnosed. This means how big it is and whether it has spread. 

Survival is also affected by the site of the cancer.


About these statistics

The term 5 year survival doesn't mean you will only live for 5 years. It relates to the number of people who live 5 years or more after their diagnosis of cancer. Many people live much longer than 5 years.

Some of the statistics on this page are for relative survival. Relative survival takes into account that some people will die of causes other than cancer. This gives a more accurate picture of cancer survival. Relative survival statistics are used for survival by stage for major salivary gland cancer, and for survival of all types and stages of salivary cancer. 


Clinical trials for salivary gland cancer

Research evidence shows that taking part in clinical trials may improve outlook. No one is completely sure why this is. It is probably partly to do with your doctors and nurses monitoring you more closely if you are in a trial. For example, you may have more scans and blood tests. There is more information in our trials and research section. You can search for trials for salivary gland cancer on our clinical trials database. Tick the boxes for closed trials and results if you want to see all the trials.

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Updated: 3 July 2014