Survival

Find out about survival for people with lung cancer.

Survival depends on many different factors. It depends on your individual condition, type of cancer, treatment and level of fitness. So no one can tell you exactly how long you will live.

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

Your doctor can give you more information about your own outlook (prognosis).

There are two main types of lung cancer:

  • Non Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC),
  • Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC).

What affects survival

Your outcome depends on the type of lung cancer that you have and also the stage of the cancer when it was diagnosed. This means how big it is and whether it has spread.

Your general health and fitness might 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.

Unfortunately, lung cancer survival hasn’t improved much in the last 40 years because many people are diagnosed at a later stage.

1 year survival by stage for lung cancer

Stage 1

More than 80 out of 100 people (more than 80%) will survive their cancer for a year or more after diagnosis.

Stage 2

More than 60 out of 100 people (more than 60%) will survive their cancer for a year or more after diagnosis.

Stage 3

More than 40 out of 100 people (more than 40%) will survive their cancer for a year or more after diagnosis.

Stage 4

Less than 20 out of 100 people (less than 20%) will survive their cancer for a year of more after they are diagnosed.

Unknown stage

It is not possible to find the stage of the cancer for some people. This is sometimes because they are too ill to have tests.

In this situation, more than 20 out of 100 people (more than 20%) will survive their cancer for a year or more after they are diagnosed.

Where this information comes from

5 year survival by stage for lung cancer

The most recent statistics for lung cancer in Ireland relate back to 2008 – 2012. Net survival rates for lung cancer are poor in comparison with other cancers with a 5 year survival rate of 15.3%. Women had better 5 year survival than men 17.5% compared with 13.9%. However younger men had a higher survival rate at 47% highlighting the importance of early detection. (Reference: National Cancer Registry Ireland).

Stage 1

Around 35 out of 100 people (around 35%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Stage 2

More than 20 out of 100 people (more than 20%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Stage 3

Around 6 out of 100 people (around 6%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Stage 4

There are no statistics for stage 4 cancer because sadly many people don’t live for more than 2 years after diagnosis.

Unknown stage

Around 6 out of 100 people (around 6%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Where this information comes from

About these statistics

The terms 1 year survival and 5 year survival don’t mean that you will only live for 1 or 5 years. They relate to the number of people who are still alive 1 year or 5 years after their diagnosis of cancer.

Some people live much longer than 5 years.

Statistics are averages based on large numbers of patients. They can’t predict exactly what will happen to you. No two patients are exactly alike and response to treatment also varies from one person to another.