Lung cancer

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Survival statistics for non–small cell lung cancer

Survival statistics for non–small cell lung 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 non–small cell lung cancer and what they mean to you.

Net survival for lung cancer

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 lung cancer is 17%. This means that, on average, 17% of people diagnosed with lung cancer will survive for at least 5 years after their diagnosis.

Survival varies with each stage of lung cancer. Generally, the earlier lung cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome.

Survival for non–small cell lung cancer

There are no specific Canadian statistics available for the different stages of non–small cell lung cancer. The following information comes from a worldwide study called the 2007 Lung Cancer Staging Project. This study collected survival data about lung cancer on more than 81,000 patients from 19 countries, including Canada. It is based on an older version of lung cancer staging that did not have stage 2C or 3C. It may not accurately reflect the advances in treatment for lung cancer that have occurred since targeted therapies and immunotherapy have become a treatment option for non–small cell lung cancer.

The study looked at overall survival, which is the length of time from diagnosis or starting treatment that people diagnosed with the disease are still alive.

Non–small cell lung cancer survival
Stage5-year overall survival

1A

58%–73%

1B

43%–58%

2A

36%–46%

2B

25%–36%

3A

19%–24%

3B

7%–9%

4

2%–13%

Questions about survival

Talk to your doctor about your prognosis. A prognosis depends on many factors, including:

  • your health history
  • the type of lung 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.

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