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Survival depends on many different factors. It depends on your individual condition, type of cancer, treatment and level of fitness. So no one can tell you exactly how long you will live. 

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. 

Your doctor can give you more information about your own outlook (prognosis). 

You can also talk about this with the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9am to 5pm, 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 their cancer was 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 cancers

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. 

Overall, for all people with salivary gland cancer in England:

  • around 85 out of 100 people (around 85%) survive their cancer for 1 year or more
  • more than 65 out of 100 people (more than 65%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more
  • around 60 out of 100 people (around 60%) survive their cancer for 10 years or more

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

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.

Last reviewed: 
26 Nov 2019
  • AJCC Cancer Staging Manual (8th edition)
    American Joint Committee on Cancer
    Springer, 2018

  • Factors predicting outcome in malignant minor salivary gland tumors of the oropharynx

    N Iyer and others

    Archives of otolaryngology, 2010. Vol 136, Issue 12

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    V Vander Poorten and others

    Cancer, 2000. Volume 89, Issue 6

  • Profile of Head and Neck Cancers in England: Incidence, Mortality and Survival 

    Oxford Cancer Intelligence Unit, 2010

  • Outcomes and prognostic factors in modern era management of major salivary gland cancer

    N Jegadeesh and others

    Oral oncology, 2015. Vol 51, Issue 8 

  • Salivary gland carcinoma in Denmark 1990-2005: outcome and prognostic factors. Results of the Danish Head and Neck Cancer Group (DAHANCA)

    K Bjorndal and others

    Oral oncology, 2012. Vol 48, Issue 2 

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