Salivary gland

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Survival statistics for salivary gland cancer

Survival statistics for salivary gland 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 salivary gland cancer and what they mean to you.

Survival statistics are for cancer found in the major salivary glands. Statistics for cancer in minor salivary glands are included with general statistics for cancer of the mouth, and are not included here.

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.

In Canada, the 5-year net survival for cancer of the major salivary glands is 69%. This means that, on average, about 69% of people diagnosed with cancer of the major salivary glands will survive for at least 5 years.

Survival by stage for cancer in a major salivary gland

Survival varies with each stage of salivary gland cancer. The grade of the salivary gland cancer has an effect on survival. High-grade tumours have a lower survival rate than low-grade tumours.

Survival statistics for major salivary gland cancer is given as relative survival. Relative survival compares the survival for a group of people with cancer to the survival expected for a group of people in the general population who share the same characteristics as the people with cancer (such as age, sex or where they live). Ideally, the group of people used in the general population would not include people with cancer, but this estimate can be difficult to obtain. So relative survival can sometimes be overestimated.

There are no specific Canadian statistics available for the different stages of salivary gland 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.

Cancer in a major salivary gland survival
Stage5-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.