Nasopharyngeal Cancer: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 02/2022

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the number of people who are diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer (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 certain parts of North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, particularly in some areas of China. Worldwide, an estimated 133,354 people were diagnosed with NPC in 2020. The disease can occur at any age, including in children. About 50% of people with the disease in the United States are under age 55.

In 2020, an estimated 80,008 people worldwide died from NPC.

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 all people with NPC in the United States 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 85%. If the cancer has spread to nearby tissues or organs and/or regional lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is 71%. If there is distant spread to other parts of the body, the 5-year survival rate is 49%. 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 the estimate may not reflect the results of advancements in how NPC is diagnosed or treated from the last 5 years. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the websites of the American Cancer Society and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. (All sources accessed January 2022.)

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.