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Survival statistics for non–small cell lung cancer

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

Relative survival

Relative survival looks at how likely people with cancer are to survive after their diagnosis compared to people in the general population who do not have cancer, but who share similar characteristics (such as age and sex).

In Canada, a 5-year relative survival statistic is reported for lung cancer. The 5-year relative survival for lung cancer is 17%. This means that, on average, people diagnosed with lung cancer are 17% as likely to live 5 years after their diagnosis as people in the general population.

Survival by stage

Survival varies with each stage of non–small cell lung cancer. The following factors can also affect survival for non–small cell lung cancer.

  • Generally, the earlier NSCLC is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome.
  • However, NSCLC is often not found until it is at an advanced stage, which can make it somewhat more difficult to treat.

There are no specific Canadian statistics available for the different stages of non–small cell lung cancer. The following information comes from a variety of sources and may include statistics from other countries.

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

IA

49%

IB

45%

IIA

30%

IIB

31%

IIIA

14%

IIIB

5%

IV

1%

Questions about survival

People with cancer should talk to their doctor about their prognosis. Prognosis depends on many factors, including:

  • a person’s medical history
  • type of cancer
  • stage
  • characteristics of the cancer
  • treatments chosen
  • response 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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