Nasopharyngeal 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 NPC each year. You will also 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 white people and Hispanic people. Alaska Natives are also more likely to develop NPC. The disease can occur at any age, including in children. About 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 North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, particularly 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%.

For the earliest stage of NPC, stage I (1), the 5-year survival rate is 72%. About 9% of people with NPC are diagnosed at this stage. The 5-year survival rate for stage II (2) disease is 64% and stage III (3) disease is 62%. Combined, 83% of people with NPC are diagnosed at these stages. The 5-year survival rate for stage IV (4) NPC is 38%. About 39% of people with NPC are diagnosed at this stage.

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. 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 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 NPC. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.