Survival Rates for Head & Neck Cancers

Cancer survival rates are usually discussed in terms of 5-year relative survival, which refers to the proportion of patients still alive five years after diagnosis.

Survival will differ according to the specific type of cancer and its stage. For example, thyroid cancer has an overall, 5-year survival of 98.4%, whereas laryngeal cancer is 61%. Keep in mind that statistics like these are based on large groups of people and cannot predict what might happen with an individual patient.

The National Cancer Institute records survival statistics using these very broad categories:

  • Overall survival includes all stages of the disease.
  • Localized. The cancer is confined to the primary site.
  • Regional. The cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
  • Distant. The cancer has metastasized to distant body areas.

Below are some of the statistics for specific head & neck cancers.

Survival for oral cavity and pharynx cancer

Overall 68%
Localized 86.3%
Regional 69%
Distant 40.4%

More NCI statistics on oral cavity and pharynx cancer.

Survival for lip cancer

Overall 91.4%
Localized 94.1%
Regional 63.4%
Distant 38.1%

More NCI statistics on lip cancer.

Survival for tongue cancer

Overall 68.8%
Localized 84.2%
Regional 69.8%
Distant 40.7%

More NCI statistics on tongue cancer.

Survival for laryngeal cancer

Overall 61%
Localized 78.3%
Regional 46.2%
Distant 33.9%

More NCI statistics on laryngeal cancer.

Survival for thyroid cancer

Overall 98.4%
Localized 99.9%
Regional 98.3%
Distant 53.3%

More NCI statistics on thyroid cancer.