Font Size
A
A
A

Lung Cancer Survival Rates


Lung Cancer Survival Rates

Your long-term outcome (prognosis) depends on the type and stage of your lung cancer. The 5-year survival rate means the percentage of people who are still alive 5 years or longer after their cancer was discovered. It is important to remember that these are only averages. Everyone's case is different, and these numbers do not necessarily show what will happen to you. The overall 5-year survival rate of 15% is low, because lung cancer is often not detected until it has reached an advanced stage.1

Non–small cell cancer survival rates

Non–small cell lung cancer generally grows and spreads more slowly than small cell lung cancer. The survival rates decrease as the stage of cancer involves lymph nodes or other body organs. In general, survival rates are as shown in the table below:2

Revised staging system3
StageTumor, node, metastasis (TNM) staging 5-year survival rate

IA

T1, N0, M0

More than 70%

IB

T2, N0, M0

60%

IIA

T1, N1, M0

50%

IIB

T2, N1, M0

30%

T3, N0–N1, M0

40%

IIIA

T1–T3, N2, M0

10%–30%

IIIB

Any T4, any N3, M0

Less than 10%

IV

Any M1

Less than 5%

Recurrent non–small cell lung cancer survival rates

Your prognosis with non–small cell lung cancer that comes back (recurrent cancer) depends on the stage of your lung cancer when it was first diagnosed, as well as the stage of your cancer when it recurs in the lungs. Treatment for recurrent cancer is based on the stage of the cancer at the time it comes back.

Small cell cancer survival rates

Small cell lung cancer is less common than non–small cell cancer but grows very rapidly in most cases and is more likely to spread to other organs. Small cell lung cancer may be staged as limited or extensive. Limited small cell cancer is found only in one lung and in nearby lymph nodes. Extensive small cell cancer has spread (metastasized) outside of the lung to other tissues in the chest or to other parts of the body. Only about one-third of people with small cell cancer have limited disease at the time they are diagnosed, while two-thirds have extensive disease. In general, survival rates are as shown:4

Small cell lung cancer stages and survival rates
Stage Survival rate with treatment

Limited

2-year: About 40%

Extensive

2-year: Less than 5%

Recurrent small cell lung cancer survival rates

People whose lung cancer returns after it is treated have a poor prognosis, with most people living only 2 to 3 months after they are diagnosed with recurrent disease.

References

Citations

  1. National Comprehensive Cancer Network (2010). Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer, version 2.2010. Available online: http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp.

  2. Spira A, Ettinger DS (2004). Multidisciplinary management of lung cancer. New England Journal of Medicine, 350(4): 379–392.

  3. Dang TP, Carbone DP (2008). Cancer of the lung. In VT DeVita et al., eds., DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology, 8th ed., vol. 1, pp. 887–791. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

  4. National Comprehensive Cancer Network (2009). Small Cell Lung Cancer, version 2.2009. Available online: http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerMichael Seth Rabin, MD - Medical Oncology
Last RevisedMay 27, 2010

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

To learn more visit Healthwise.org

© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.





Medical Dictionary