Laryngeal and Hypopharyngeal Cancer: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 01/2019

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

Laryngeal cancer

Laryngeal cancer is a common type of head and neck cancer. This year, an estimated 12,410 adults (9,860 men and 2,550 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with laryngeal cancer.

It is estimated that 3,760 deaths (3,010 men and 750 women) from this disease will occur this year. Both the death rate and incidence rate have dropped 2 percent each year in recent years, mainly due to a decrease in smoking.

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 laryngeal cancer is 61%. More than half of patients (53%) are diagnosed and treated before the cancer has spread outside the larynx, and in these cases, the 5-year survival rate is 78%. If the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs and/or the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is 46%. If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, the 5-year survival rate is 34%.

However, the 5-year survival rate also depends on the location of the cancer (glottis, supraglottis, or subglottis, as explained in the Introduction) and the stage.

  • Glottis. Approximately 60% of laryngeal cancer is found in the glottis. Almost 80% of cases are found in its earliest stage, which has a survival rate of 90%. When the cancer is in the most advanced stage and has spread to other parts of the body, the survival rate is 44%.

  • Supraglottis. Approximately 35% of laryngeal cancer is found in the supraglottis. For cancer in the supraglottis, the survival rates are 59% for the earliest stage to 34% for the most advanced stage.

  • Subglottis. Rarely, cancer will start in the subglottis. For cancer in the subglottis, survival rates range from 65% at the earliest stage to 32% at the most advanced stage.

Hypopharyngeal cancer

Each year, an estimated 3,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with hypopharyngeal cancer.

Survival rates for hypopharyngeal cancer vary based on a variety of factors, particularly the stage. The 5-year survival rate for hypopharyngeal cancer is 33%. If the cancer is found at an early, localized stage, the 5-year survival rate of people with hypopharyngeal cancer is 53%. About 17% of cases are diagnosed at this stage. If the cancer has spread to nearby areas and/or lymph nodes (stages II and III), the 5-year survival rate is 36% to 39%. If the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, the 5-year survival rate is 24%. Approximately 54% of cases are diagnosed at this stage. Hypopharyngeal cancer is often found at a more advanced stage because of its location. Laryngeal cancer often will cause hoarseness or coughing up blood, which can lead to an earlier diagnosis. Hypopharyngeal cancers can go longer without causing symptoms.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancer are an estimate. The estimate comes from annual data based on the number of people with these types of cancer in the United States. Also, experts measure the survival statistics every 5 years. So the estimate may not show the results of better diagnosis or treatment available for less than 5 years. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's (ACS) publications, Cancer Facts and Figures 2019 and Cancer Facts and Figures 2017: Special Section – Rare Cancers in Adults, and the ACS website (January 2019).

The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers drawings of body parts often affected by laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancer. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.