Salivary Gland Cancer

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Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging TOPICS

Survival rates for salivary gland cancer by stage

Survival rates are often used by doctors as a standard way of discussing a person’s prognosis (outlook). Some patients with cancer may want to know the survival statistics for people in similar situations, while others may not find the numbers helpful, or may even not want to know them. If you don’t want to read about the survival numbers for salivary gland cancer, stop reading here and skip to the next section.

The 5-year survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live at least 5 years after their cancer is diagnosed. Of course, many people live much longer than 5 years (and many are cured). To get 5-year survival rates, doctors have to look at people who were treated at least 5 years ago. Improvements in treatment since then may result in a better outlook for people now being diagnosed with salivary gland cancer.

5-year relative survival rates (such as the numbers below) assume that some people will die of other causes and compare the observed survival with that expected for people without the cancer. This is a more accurate way to describe the prognosis for patients with a particular type and stage of cancer.

The rates below are based on the stage of the cancer at the time of diagnosis. When looking at survival rates, it’s important to understand that the stage of a cancer does not change over time, even if the cancer progresses. A cancer that spreads or comes back is still referred to by the stage it was given when it was first found, but more information is added to explain the current extent of the cancer. (And of course, the treatment plan is adjusted based on the change in cancer status.)

The numbers below come from the National Cancer Database, and are based on people diagnosed with cancer of the major salivary glands between 1998 and 1999.

Stage

5-year Relative
Survival Rate

 

I

91%

II

75%

III

65%

IV

39%

Again, these numbers include people who were diagnosed and treated many years ago, so the outlook for people now being diagnosed might be better.

Survival rates are based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had the disease, but they can’t predict what will happen in any person’s case. The stage of the cancer is important, but many other factors can also affect a person’s outlook, such as their age, the type and grade of the cancer, and how well the cancer responds to treatment. Even when taking these factors into account, survival rates are at best rough estimates. Your doctor is familiar with the aspects of your particular situation and can tell you how the numbers above might apply to you.


Last Medical Review: 01/13/2014
Last Revised: 01/13/2014