Survival Rates for Laryngeal and Hypopharyngeal Cancers

Survival rates can give you an idea of what percentage of people with the same type and stage of cancer are still alive a certain amount of time (usually 5 years) after they were diagnosed. They can’t tell you how long you will live, but they may help give you a better understanding of how likely it is that your treatment will be successful.

Keep in mind that survival rates are estimates and are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had a specific cancer, but they can’t predict what will happen in any particular person’s case. These statistics can be confusing and may lead you to have more questions. Talk with your doctor about how these numbers may apply to you, as he or she is familiar with your situation.

What is a 5-year relative survival rate?

A relative survival rate compares people with the same type and stage of cancer to people in the overall population. For example, if the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific stage of laryngeal or hypopharyngeal cancer is 80%, it means that people who have that cancer are, on average, about 80% as likely as people who don’t have that cancer to live for at least 5 years after being diagnosed.

Where do these numbers come from?

The American Cancer Society relies on information from the SEER* database, maintained by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), to provide survival statistics for different types of cancer.

The SEER database tracks 5-year relative survival rates for laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancer in the United States, based on how far the cancer has spread. The SEER database, however, does not group cancers using AJCC TNM stages (stage 1, stage 2, stage 3, etc.) for laryngeal or hypopharyngeal cancer. Instead, it groups cancers into localized, regional, and distant stages:

  • Localized: There is no sign that the cancer has spread outside of the larynx (or hypopharynx).
  • Regional: The cancer has spread outside the larynx (or hypopharynx) to nearby structures or lymph nodes.
  • Distant: The cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, such as the lungs.

5-year relative survival rates for laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers

These numbers are based on people diagnosed with cancers of the larynx or hypopharynx between 2009 and 2015. For laryngeal cancers, survival rates differ based on which part of the larynx the cancer started in (supraglottis, glottis, or subglottis).

Supraglottis (part of the larynx above the vocal cords)

SEER stage

5-year relative survival rate

Localized

61%

Regional

47%

Distant

30%

All SEER stages combined

46%

Glottis (part of the larynx including the vocal cords)

SEER stage

5-year relative survival rate

Localized

83%

Regional

48%

Distant

42%

All SEER stages combined

76%

Subglottis (part of the larynx below the vocal cords)

SEER stage

5-year relative survival rate

Localized

60%

Regional

33%*

Distant

45%*

All SEER stages combined

52%

*The 5-year survival for these tumors at the distant stage is better than for the regional stage. The reason for this is not clear, although it's important to know that these rates are based on small numbers of cases.

Hypopharynx

SEER stage

5-year relative survival rate

Localized

59%

Regional

33%

Distant

21%

All SEER stages combined

32%

 

Understanding the numbers

  • These numbers apply only to the stage of the cancer when it is first diagnosed. They do not apply later on if the cancer grows, spreads, or comes back after treatment.
  • These numbers don’t take everything into account. Survival rates are grouped based on how far the cancer has spread. But other factors, such as your age and overall health, and how well the cancer responds to treatment, can also affect your outlook.
  • People now being diagnosed with laryngeal or hypopharyngeal cancer may have a better outlook than these numbers show. Treatments improve over time, and these numbers are based on people who were diagnosed and treated at least five years earlier.

*SEER = Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, et al (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2016, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, https://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2016/, based on November 2018 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER website, April 2019.

References

Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, et al (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2016, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, https://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2016/, based on November 2018 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER website, April 2019.

Last Medical Review: December 20, 2017 Last Revised: January 8, 2020

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