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Can You Be Cured of Lung Cancer?

Ask a Doctor

I just received a positive diagnosis of lung cancer, and I need to know what my chances are. Do I dare hope for a cure? What are the odds of beating lung cancer?

Doctor’s Response

Your chances of survival can vary widely depending on the stage of your disease when you begin treatment.

Overall (considering all types and stages of lung cancer), 18% of people with lung cancer survive for at least 5 years. Survival rates tend to be low when compared to the 65% 5-year survival rate for colon cancer, 91% for breast cancer, and over 99% for prostate cancer.

  • People who have early stage (stage I) NSCLC and undergo lung surgery have a 60% to 70% chance of surviving 5 years.
  • People with extensive nonoperable lung cancer have an average survival duration of 9 months or less.
  • Those with limited SCLC who receive chemotherapy have a 2-year survival rate of 20% to 30% and a 5-year survival rate of 10% to 15%.
  • Less than 5% of people with extensive-stage SCLC (small cell cancers) are alive after 2 years, with a median survival range of eight to 13 months.

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References
American Joint Committee on Cancer. "Lung Cancer Staging." <http://cancerstaging.org/references-tools/quickreferences/documents/lungmedium.pdf>.

Santacroce, Luigi. "Paraneoplastic Syndromes." Medscape.com. Aug. 13, 2014. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/280744-overview>.

United States. National Cancer Institute, U.S. National Institutes of Health. "What You Need to Know About Lung Cancer." July 2012. <http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/lung>.
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