Laryngeal and Hypopharyngeal Cancer: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 01/2020

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 12,370 adults (9,820 men and 2,550 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with laryngeal cancer. The incidence rates of this disease are dropping by 2% to 3% annually. This is thought to be the result of a decrease in the number of people smoking. 

It is estimated that 3,750 deaths (3,000 men and 750 women) from this disease will occur this year. 

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 60%. More than half of patients (54%) are diagnosed and treated before the cancer has spread outside the larynx, and in these cases, the 5-year survival rate is 77%. If the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs and/or the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is 45%. If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, the 5-year survival rate is 33%. 

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. The 5-year survival rate for this cancer is 76%. If the cancer is only located in the larynx (localized cancer), the 5-year survival rate is 83%. If the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs and/or the regional lymph nodes (regional cancer), the 5-year survival rate is 48%. When the cancer is in the most advanced stage and has spread to a distant part of the body (distant cancer), the survival rate is 42%.

  • Supraglottis. Approximately 35% of laryngeal cancer is found in the supraglottis. The 5-year survival rate for this cancer is 46%. If the cancer is localized in the larynx, the 5-year survival rate is 61%. If the cancer is regional, the 5-year survival rate is 47%. The 5-year survival rate for distant cancer of the supraglottis is 30%. 

  • Subglottis. Rarely, cancer will start in the subglottis. The 5-year survival rate for this cancer is 52%. If the cancer is localized in the larynx, the 5-year survival rate is 60%. If the cancer is regional, the 5-year survival rate is 33%. At its distant stage, the 5-year survival rate is 45%. 

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 32%. If the cancer is found at an early, localized stage, the 5-year survival rate of people with hypopharyngeal cancer is 59%.  

If the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs and/or the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is 33%. If the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, the 5-year survival rate is 21%. 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) publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2020, the ACS website, and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program (sources accessed January 2020.) 

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.