Survival for salivary gland cancer

Survival depends on different factors. So no one can tell you exactly how long you will live.

Doctors usually work out the outlook for a certain disease by looking at large groups of people. Because this cancer is less common, survival is harder to estimate than for other, more common cancers.

Some of the statistics have to be based on a small number of people. Remember, 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 to the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Survival by stage for salivary cancer

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

The statistics below come from America. They come from the National Cancer Institute's SEER programme. They are for people diagnosed with salivary gland cancer between 2011 and 2017. Please be aware that these figures might not be a true picture of survival in the UK. This is due to differences in American health care systems, data collection and the population. 

The American statistics are split into 3 stage groups – localised, regional and distant cancers. In the UK, your doctor might not use these terms. Instead, they might describe your cancer as a number stage (stage 1 to 4). The following descriptions are a guide to help you understand whether your cancer is localised, regional or distant. This isn’t straight forward and will depend on your individual situation. Talk to your specialist if you are unsure which group you are in.

There are 3 groups:

  • Localised cancers haven’t spread into nearby lymph nodes.
  • Regional cancers have spread to nearby lymph nodes. Or there is advanced local spread into nearby structures (for example T4 tumours).
  • Distant cancers have spread to other parts of the body, away from the salivary gland.

Localised
Almost 95 out of 100 people (almost  95%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis. 

Regional 
65 out of 100 people (65%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Distant
Around 35 out of 100 people (around 3%) survive their cancer 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
  • around 65 out of 100 people (around 65%) survive their cancer for 5 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. 

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