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Lung Cancer: Survival Rates and Prognosis

  • Posted: 10/05/2012

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Lung Cancer: Survival Rates and Prognosis

Cancer statistics are averages based on large numbers of people with cancer. Statistics such as survival rates and prognosis cannot tell you exactly how lung cancer and what your disease course might be. Cancer statistics are meant to be used as a general guide. In the United States in 2012, it is estimated there will be about 226,160 new cases of lung cancer (non-small cell and small cell combined) diagnosed and about 160,340 deaths from the disease.

Use this page to learn more about the following:

What is Cancer Survival and Prognosis?

Prognosis is the likely outcome or course of a disease. You can also think of prognosis as the chance of recovery or recurrence. Cancer survival refers to how long people live after cancer is diagnosed. Cancer survival is the percentage of people (how many of 100) who live a given period of time after cancer is diagnosed. Survival statistics can give only an estimate of survival. Survival statistics cannot tell you how long you will live after cancer is diagnosed. These statistics are based on data from large groups of patients.

Prognosis in lung cancer depends mostly on: 

  • The type of lung cancer.
  • The stage at which lung cancer is diagnosed. 
  • The patient's age and general health. 
  • The response to treatment. 
  • Whether lung cancer has just been diagnosed or has recurred (come back).

The best person to talk to about your prognosis is the doctor who knows your case the best. Your doctor can explain what the statistics may mean for you. However, it is important to understand that even your doctor cannot tell exactly what to expect. Also, your prognosis may change for many reasons, such as how well treatment works.
 

What is Five-Year Survival?

Five-year survival rate is the percentage of people (how many out of 100) are alive 5 years after their cancer diagnosis. It doesn’t matter if they have few or no signs of cancer, are free of disease, or are having treatment. Five-year survival is used as a standard way to talk about prognosis and to compare one treatment to another. For example, a new chemotherapy regimen may be considered better than an older regimen if it has a higher 5-year survival. Five-year survival does not mean that a patient can expect to live for only 5 years after diagnosis.
 

Five-Year Survival in Lung Cancer

The most recent lung cancer statistics show the overall five-year survival for lung cancer is 16 percent — that is, 16 of every 100 people diagnosed with the disease will still be alive 5 years after diagnosis. The following are 5-year survival estimates for lung cancer by race and sex:
 

Lung Cancer: 5-Year Survival
Graph showing the most recent NCI Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) data of estimated 5 year survival rate in lung cancer. For the years 2002-2008, 16 percent of people survived 5 years after diagnosis.

 

Gender & Race

Overall, 15 percent of men survive lung cancer after five years.That is, about 15 of every 100 men will be alive five years after diagnosis of lung cancer. The five-year survival estimate for white men is 14 percent and that of black men is 12 percent. About 19 percent of women or 19 of every 100 women will survive five years following lung cancer diagnosis. The five-year survival rate for white women is 19 percent and that of black women is 15 percent.

Lung Cancer: 5-Year Survival by Gender and Race
Graph showing the most recent NCI Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) data of estimated 5 year survival rate in lung cancer for men and women overall and by race.

 

To calculate survival rates for other races and ethnic groups, see SEER Fast Stats for Lung Cancer.

 

Cancer Stage

Five-year survival can also be estimated based on the stage of the lung cancer when it was diagnosed. The following are five-year survival estimates by stage:

  • About 52 percent of of people with localized lung cancer.
  • About 25 percent of people with regional lung cancer (cancer that has spread to nearby lymph nodes).
  • About 4 percent of people with metastatic lung cancer (cancer that has spread to distant parts of the body).
Lung Cancer: 5-Year Survival by Stage
Graph showing the most recent NCI Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) data of estimated 5 year survival rate by stage of lung cancer at time of diagnosis. This graph shows the percentage of people (how many of 100) who are alive 5 years after being diagnosed with localized disease (cancer that has not spread beyond the original site), regional disease (cancer that remains in the body area right around a tumor), and distant disease, (cancer that has spread from the original (primary) tumor to distant organs or distant lymph nodes).

 

To learn more, see SEER Stat Fact Sheets: Lung and Bronchus

References
All statistics in this page are based on Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) incidence and National Center for Health Statistics (NHCS) mortality statistics. 
 

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