Salivary Gland Cancer: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 03/2023

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the estimated number of people who will be diagnosed with salivary gland cancer each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors, and no 2 people with cancer are the same. Use the menu to see other pages.

Every person is different, with different factors influencing their risk of being diagnosed with this cancer and the chance of recovery after a diagnosis. It is important to talk with your doctor about any questions you have around the general statistics provided below and what they may mean for you individually. The original sources for these statistics are provided at the bottom of this page.

How many people are diagnosed with salivary gland cancer?

Worldwide, an estimated 53,583 people were diagnosed with salivary gland cancer in 2020. However, salivary gland cancer is uncommon in the United States, with about 2,000 to 2,500 new cases diagnosed each year. This type of cancer represents between 6% and 8% of all head and neck cancers in the United States. The average age of diagnosis is 55.

In 2020, an estimated 22,778 people died from salivary gland cancer worldwide.

What is the survival rate for salivary gland cancer?

There are different types of statistics that can help doctors evaluate a person’s chance of recovery from salivary gland cancer. These are called survival statistics. A specific type of survival statistic is called the relative survival rate. It is often used to predict how having cancer may affect life expectancy. Relative survival rate looks at how likely people with salivary gland cancer are to survive for a certain amount of time after their initial diagnosis or start of treatment compared to the expected survival of similar people without this cancer.

Example: Here is an example to help explain what a relative survival rate means. Please note this is only an example and not specific to this type of cancer. Let’s assume that the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific type of cancer is 90%. “Percent” means how many out of 100. Imagine there are 1,000 people without cancer, and based on their age and other characteristics, you expect 900 of the 1,000 to be alive in 5 years. Also imagine there are another 1,000 people similar in age and other characteristics as the first 1,000, but they all have the specific type of cancer that has a 5-year survival rate of 90%. This means it is expected that 810 of the people with the specific cancer (90% of 900) will be alive in 5 years.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with salivary gland cancer are only an estimate. They cannot tell an individual person if cancer will or will not shorten their life. Instead, these statistics describe trends in groups of people previously diagnosed with the same disease, including specific stages of the disease.

The 5-year relative survival rate for salivary gland cancer in the United States is 76%.

The survival rates for salivary gland cancer vary based on several factors. These include the stage and grade of cancer, a person’s age and general health, and how well the treatment plan works.

If cancer is located only in the salivary gland, the 5-year relative survival rate is 94%. If the cancer has spread outside the salivary gland to nearby structures or lymph nodes, the 5-year relative survival rate is 70%. If it is found after the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, the 5-year relative survival rate is 43%.

Experts measure relative survival rate statistics for salivary gland salivary gland cancer every 5 years. This means the estimate may not reflect the results of advancements in how salivary gland cancer 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 March 2023.)

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