Survival statistics for lung cancer | Cancer Research UK
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Statistics and outlook for lung cancer

Outlook means your chances of getting better. Doctors call this prognosis. The likely outcome of treatment for lung cancer depends on how advanced the cancer is when it is diagnosed (the stage). It also depends on the type of lung cancer you have.

Lung cancer is difficult to treat and is often diagnosed very late. Because of these factors, it has one of the lowest survival outcomes of any type of cancer.

Below we have quite detailed information about the likely outcome for different stages of lung cancer. The statistics here are intended as a general guide only. For a more complete picture in your own case, you need to speak to your own specialist.

We include statistics because people ask for them. But not everyone wants to read this type of information. Remember that you can skip this page if you don't want to read it. You can always come back to it.

How reliable are cancer statistics?

No statistics can tell you what will happen to you. The same type of cancer can grow at different rates in different people. The statistics can't tell you about the different treatments individual people may have had. And they can't show how that treatment may have affected their prognosis. There are many individual factors that will affect your treatment and your outlook.

 

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Lung cancer survival

Find out about survival for lung cancer.

People ask us for this information but not everyone with cancer wants to read it. So, if you aren’t sure whether you want to know at the moment, you can come back to it later.

These are general statistics based on large groups of patients. They can’t tell you what will happen in your individual case.

No one can tell you exactly how long you’ll live with lung cancer. It depends on your individual situation, treatment and level of fitness.

Your doctor can give you more information about your own outlook (prognosis). Or you can talk to the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday.

 

Survival for non small cell lung cancer by stage

There are no UK-wide statistics for non small cell lung cancer survival. 

The following statistics come from the 2007 Lung Cancer Staging Project. This worldwide study collected data about lung cancer on more than 81,000 patients from 19 countries. There is a range of statistics for each stage because for some patients the stage was based on the results of scans and tests, and for other patients the stage was found during surgery.

Stage 1

Stage 1 non small cell lung cancer is divided into 2 stages, stage 1A and 1B.

For stage 1A non small cell lung cancer, between 58 and 73 out of every 100 people (58% to 73%) will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

For stage 1B non small cell lung cancer, between 43 and 58 out of every 100 people (43% to 58%) will survive for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

Stage 2

Stage 2 non small cell lung cancer is also divided into stage 2A and 2B.

For stage 2A non small cell lung cancer, between 36 and 46 out of every 100 people (36% to 46%) will survive for 5 years or more with treatment.

For stage 2B non small cell lung cancer, between 25 and 36 out of every 100 people (25% to 36%) will survive for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

Stage 3

Stage 3 non small cell lung cancer is divided into stage 3A and stage 3B.

For stage 3A non small cell lung cancer, between 19 and 24 out of every 100 people (19% to 24%) will survive for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

For stage 3B non small cell lung cancer, between 7 and 9 out of every 100 people diagnosed (7% to 9%) will survive for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

Stage 4

For stage 4 non small cell lung cancer, only between 2 and 13 out of every 100 people (2% to 13%) will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

It can seem illogical for stage 3B cancer to have 5 year survival rates from 7% to 9% and stage 4 from 2% to 13%. This is because the staging system only looks at the extent of the cancer. It does not look at the specific types of cancer. So the stage 4 group may include more people who have slowly growing cancers or cancer that responds very well to particular treatments than the stage 3 group. 

Read more about the stages of lung cancer.

 

Survival for small cell lung cancer by stage

There are non UK-wide statistics for small cell lung cancer survival. 

The following statistics also come from the international 2007 Lung Cancer Staging Project. This study used the TNM staging system to give the following statistics about survival based on the stage found by scans and tests. The project included more than 8,000 patients with small cell lung cancer.

Stage 1

Stage 1 small cell lung cancer is divided into stage 1A and 1B.

For stage 1A small cell lung cancer, almost 40 out of every 100 people (almost 40%) will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

For stage 1B small cell lung cancer, around 20 out of every 100 people (around 20%) will survive for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

Stage 2

Stage 2 small cell lung cancer is also divided into stage 2A and 2B.

For stage 2A small cell lung cancer, almost 40 out of every 100 people (almost 40%) will survive for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed. 

For stage 2B small cell lung cancer, almost 20 out of every 100 people (almost 20%) will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

The survival rates for stage 2A seemed to be higher than for stage 1B. Researchers think this is because the study had very few patients in the stage 2A group. They suggest that those statistics may not be so reliable as the others.

Stage 3

Stage 3 is divided into stage 3A and stage 3B.

For stage 3A small cell lung cancer, almost 15 out of every 100 people (almost 15%) will survive for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed. 

For stage 3B small cell lung cancer, around 10 out of every 100 people (around 10%) will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Stage 4

For stage 4 small cell lung cancer, only about 1 out of every 100 people (1%)  will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Read more about the stages of lung cancer

 

Survival for all lung cancer

Generally for all people with lung cancer in England and Wales

  • around 30 out of every 100 people (around 30%) will survive their cancer for 1 year or more after they are diagnosed
  • around 10 out of every 100 people (around 10%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis
  • about 5 out of every 100 people (about 5%) will survive their cancer for 10 years or more after they are diagnosed
 

What affects survival

Your outcome depends on the stage of the cancer when it was diagnosed. This means how big it is and whether it has spread. The type of lung cancer also affects your likely survival. 

Your general health and fitness may also affect survival. Doctors call this your performance status. A score of 0 means you are completely able to look after yourself. A score of 1 means you can do most things for yourself but need some help. The scores continue to go up, depending on how much help you need. People with a higher score may have a poorer outlook. 

 

About these statistics

The term 5 year survival doesn't mean you will only live for 5 years. It relates to the number of people who live 5 years or more after their diagnosis of cancer. Many people live much longer than 5 years.

Some survival statistics are for relative survival. Relative survival takes into account that some people will die of causes other than cancer. This gives a more accurate picture of cancer survival. On this page, the statistics for 1, 5 and 10 year survival for all lung cancers are for relative survival. 

 

Clinical trials

The treatment for many types of cancer has improved through clinical trials. Trials are currently aiming to improve treatment and increase survival rates for lung cancer. We have a section explaining clinical trials

You can search our clinical trials database for lung cancer trials.

lung cancer impact statement NHS

 

More statistics

Read more about understanding statistics in cancer research and incidence, mortality and survival statistics.

For more in-depth information about survival and other statistics for lung cancer, go to our Cancer Statistics section.

 

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Updated: 30 April 2014