Survival statistics for nasopharyngeal cancer

Survival statistics for nasopharyngeal cancer are very general estimates and must be interpreted very carefully. Because these statistics are based on the experience of groups of people, they cannot be used to predict a particular person’s chances of survival.

There are many different ways to measure and report cancer survival statistics. Your doctor can explain the statistics for nasopharyngeal cancer and what they mean to you.

Net survival

Net survival represents the probability of surviving cancer in the absence of other causes of death. It is used to give an estimate of the percentage of people who will survive their cancer.

A net survival statistic for nasopharyngeal cancer not reported separately but is included in the general category head and neck cancer. This broad category includes nasopharyngeal cancer and similar cancers together. So the number does not necessarily show the net survival specifically for nasopharyngeal cancer.

In Canada, the 5-year net survival for head and neck cancer is 64%. This means about 64% of people diagnosed with head and neck cancer will survive for at least 5 years.

Survival by stage

Survival varies with each stage of nasopharyngeal cancer.

Nasopharyngeal cancer is often aggressive, so it may grow and spread quickly. Generally, the earlier nasopharyngeal cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome. But often nasopharyngeal cancer is not found until it is at an advanced stage, which can make it harder to treat.

Survival by stage of nasopharyngeal cancer is reported as 5-year relative survival. Relative survival looks at how likely people with cancer are to survive after their diagnosis compared to people in the general population who do not have cancer, but who share similar characteristics (such as age and sex).

There are no specific Canadian statistics available for the different stages of nasopharyngeal cancer. The following information comes from a variety of sources. It may include statistics from other countries that are likely to have similar outcomes as in Canada.

Nasopharyngeal cancer survival


5-year relative survival









Questions about survival

Talk to your doctor about your prognosis. A prognosis depends on many factors, including:

  • your health history
  • the type of cancer
  • the stage
  • certain characteristics of the cancer
  • the treatments chosen
  • how the cancer responds to treatment

Only a doctor familiar with these factors can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.

Expert review and references