Nasopharyngeal Cancer: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 06/2016

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the number of people who are diagnosed with NPC each year. You will read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. Use the menu to see other pages.

NPC is uncommon in the United States. Less than 1 person out of 100,000 people is diagnosed with NPC each year. NPC is more common in Asians/Pacific Islanders, who are diagnosed 6 times more often than whites and Hispanics. Alaska Natives are also more likely to develop NPC. Approximately 50% of people with the disease are 55 or younger.

During the past few years, the rate at which Americans have been developing this cancer has been slowly decreasing. NPC is much more common in certain parts of Asia and North Africa. For instance, it is a fairly common cancer in Southeast China.

The 5-year survival rate tells you what percent of people live at least 5 years after the cancer is found. Percent means how many out of 100. The 5-year survival rate for people with NPC is 60%. Approximately 44% of NPC is diagnosed at the regional stage, which means the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs and/or the regional lymph nodes. About 39% of NPC is diagnosed at the distant stage, which means the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body.

Survival rates depend on many factors, including the location of the tumor and if or where it has spread, called the stage. Talk with your doctor about what to expect with your specific diagnosis.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with NPC are an estimate. The estimate comes from annual data based on the number of people with this cancer in the United States. Also, experts measure the survival statistics every 5 years. This means that the estimate may not show the results of better diagnosis or treatment available for less than 5 years. People should talk with their doctor if they have questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's (ACS) publication, Cancer Facts and Figures 2017: Special Section – Rare Cancers in Adults, and the ACS website.

The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers drawings of body parts often affected by this disease. Or, use the menu to choose another section to continue reading this guide.