Lung Cancer Survival Rate

Each year, more people in the United States die from lung cancer than from breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancers combined. In 2005, there were 159,217 reported lung cancer deaths in the United States. While lung cancer prevalence is lower worldwide than in the US, lung cancer is also the leading cause of cancer death around the world. Approximately 1.3 million people die from the illness each year.

The high death rates associated with lung cancer are partially due to the fact that it is notoriously difficult to treat. For this reason, lung cancer survival rates are fairly low. Below is a review of lung cancer survival rates by time, level of cancer progression and type of lung cancer.

Overall Lung Cancer Survival Stats

Survival rates for lung cancer vary depending on the type of cancer diagnosed and how early in progression the illness is diagnosed. Estimated overall survival rate for all lung cancer patients (regardless of cancer type and cancer stage) are estimated at:

Survival Time after Diagnosis
Years after Diagnosis Survival Rates
  5 15%
10   5%

By the stage of cancer at diagnosis, survival rates are estimated at:

Survival Rate by Stage of Cancer at Diagnosis
Stage Survival Rates
Stage 0 70-80%
Stage I 50%
Stage II 30%
Stage III 15%
Stage IV Less than 2%


Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer vs. Small Cell Lung Cancer

In general, patients diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) have a better prognosis than those diagnosed with the more aggressive small cell lung cancer (SCLC). NSCLC accounts for roughly 85 percent of all lung cancer cases. The 5-year survival rates for NSCLC are estimated at:

Five Year Survival Rates for NSCLC Patients
Stage Survival Rates
Stage IA 49%
Stage IB 45%
Stage IIA 30%
Stage IIB 31%
Stage IIIA 14%
Stage IIIB   5% (median survival of 13 months)
Stage IV   1% (median survival of eight months)

In comparison, the overall 5-year survival rate for individuals diagnosed with small cell lung cancer is estimated at about six percent. With treatment, the median survival time for SCLC patients is listed at six to 12 months. Patients diagnosed in the earlier limited stage tend to have a better prognosis.

Lung Cancer Survival: United States vs. Worldwide Figures

Lung cancer patients in the United States have longer median survival times than patients in other countries. The 5-year survival rate in Europe is only about 8 percent. The estimated survival rate for the whole world is also estimated somewhere around eight percent.

Compensation information is available for those diagnosed with lung cancer in our FREE Lung Cancer Information Packet or by calling toll-free 1-800-258-1054.

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Lung Cancer Patient Assistance
»How to understand survival rates