What is the Lung Cancer Survival Rate?

Mike Olmos by Mike Olmos | Licensed since 2010
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This article was updated on: 09/15/2018

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Statistics from the American Cancer Society suggest that lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer in both men and women, after skin cancer. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with lung cancer, it’s natural to have a lot of questions about the lung cancer survival rate. Here’s a look at the different types of lung cancer and the lung cancer survival rate for each type.

What are the different types of lung cancer?

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), there are three types of lung cancer: Non-small cell lung cancer, small cell lung cancer, and lung carcinoid tumor. Non-small cell lung cancer is by far the most common, accounting for roughly 85% of all lung cancers. Small cell lung cancers, on the other hand, account for between 10% and 15%, while lung carcinoid tumors are quite rare, usually fewer than 5% of all lung cancer cases.

What is the lung cancer survival rate?

The lung cancer survival rate is based on the type and stage of cancer you have.  Lung cancer staging typically involves a number between I and IV, and may include either the letter A or B depending on the type of cancer. Generally speaking, cancers assigned a lower stage number have a better lung cancer survival rate than higher numbers according to ACS data.

It’s important to understand what the lung cancer survival rate actually means. Most of the time, your lung cancer survival rate refers to the number of people who are still alive five years after their diagnosis. The lung cancer survival rate is usually expressed as a percentage; for example, a five-year lung cancer survival rate of 50% means that 50 people out of 100 who were diagnosed with a particular cancer five years ago are still alive. The lung cancer survival rate is not an estimate of how long you might live after the five-year mark—many people live for a long time after treatment for lung cancer.

Below are the estimated five-year lung cancer survival rate statistics for the different types and stages of cancer according to the American Cancer Society:

Non-small cell lung cancer survival rate:

  • Stage IA is 49%.
  • Stage IB is 45%.
  • Stage IIA is 30%.
  • Stage IIB is 31%.
  • Stage IIIA is 14%.
  • Stage IIIB is 5%.

Stage IV cancers that have spread to distant parts of the body have a poor prognosis; the five-year lung cancer survival rate for these cancers is about 1%.

Small cell lung cancer survival rate:

  • Stage I is 31%.
  • Stage II is 19%.
  • Stage III is 8%.
  • Stage IV is 2%.

Lung Carcinoid Tumor lung cancer survival rate:

  • Stage I is 93%.
  • Stage II is 85%.
  • Stage III is 75%.
  • Stage IV is 57%.

Remember that the lung cancer survival rate is simply a guideline or estimate; your prognosis and outcome depends on many things such as your overall health, age, and response to treatment.

Need more information about your lung cancer survival rate and Medicare coverage?

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