Nasopharyngeal 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 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 much more common in certain parts of North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, particularly southeast China.

The disease can occur at any age, including in children. About 50% of people with the disease are 55 or younger.

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 61%. However, survival rates depend on many factors, including the location of the tumor and if or where it has spread, called the stage

If the cancer is located only in the nasopharynx, the 5-year survival rate is 82%. If the cancer has spread to nearby tissues or organs and/or regional lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is 73%. If there is distant spread to other parts of the body, the 5-year survival rate is 48%. 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) website (accessed January 2020) and its publication, Cancer Facts Figures 2017: Special Section – Rare Cancers in Adults.

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.