Lung cancer prognosis...what are the chances of surviving the disease?
The term prognosis refers to forecasting the likely course or
progression of a disease and the probable outcome. It also includes
estimating the chances of recovery from the disease. And that is what lung
cancer prognosis is all about.
Lung cancer prognosis depends on several factors. These factors include
the specific type of lung cancer, the degree of metastasis (the extent to
which the cancer has spread to other parts of the body), the patient's
overall health and response to medication, etc.
The size of the tumor and the extent to which the cancer has spread within
the lung (the disease stage) are important prognostic factors in non-small
cell lung cancer. If the patient exhibits pulmonary symptoms, it leads to
a worse prognosis as compared to that for someone who does not exhibit
If the cancer has spread to several lymph nodes, the lung cancer prognosis
is significantly worse than if that were not the case. In the case of
non-small cell lung cancer, weight loss of more than 10% is also
considered a bad sign.
Oncologists (cancer specialists) attempt to quantify a patient's
well-being using a measure called performance status. A poor performance
status indicates a poor prognosis. Doctors consider the performance status
when deciding whether the patient should receive chemotherapy and other
forms of treatment. This measure is also used to decide upon the degree of
palliative care needed.
The Karnofsky scoring system, a commonly used performance status system,
uses a score that runs from 0 to 100, with 100 indicating perfect health
and 0 indicating death.
Prognosis for patients with small cell lung cancer depends on the
performance status, the extent to which the liver and the central nervous
system have been affected when the cancer is diagnosed. The prognosis also
depends on the gender of the person and the stage of the disease, among
The National Cancer Institute reports that the median age for lung cancer
detection is 70 years and the median age for death because of this disease
is 71 years.
While lung cancer prognosis for all disease types is generally poor, there
are some differences.
Among patients with small cell lung carcinoma, the survival rate at the
end of five years is just 5% (overall figure). Among those who have
extensive-stage small cell lung cancer, the survival rate at the five year
mark is 1%. Those with limited-stage SCLC do better - they have a five
year survival rate of 20%. Their median survival time for such patient is
The figures are different for those with non-small cell lung carcinoma,
though they are not very encouraging. The survival rate depends on the
disease stage. Among patients with stage 1A disease who have undergone
comprehensive surgical resection, the survival rate at the five year point
is approximately 67%. In the case of patients with stage 1B disease
however, the survival rate at five years deteriorates to 57%. Patients
with advanced non-small cell lung cancer - where the disease is at stage
IV - the five year survival rate is estimated to be 1%.
In summary, lung cancer prognosis is usually quite poor. Survival rate depend
to some extent on the stage at which disease is detected. The earlier the
detection, the greater the chances of survival beyond the five year mark.
That is why it is important to be aware of common
lung cancer symptoms -
if any of the symptoms are present, it requires immediate medical attention.