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What Is Stage 2 Lung Cancer Life Expectancy?

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Updated May 16, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: What Is Stage 2 Lung Cancer Life Expectancy?
Answer:

A common question I am asked when someone is diagnosed with stage 2 non-small cell lung cancer, is “what is stage 2 lung cancer life expectancy?” This isn’t unexpected, given the overall low survival rate from lung cancer. Before answering the question though, it is important to talk a little about how the answer – the statistical answer – is derived.

Variables

Stage 2 lung cancer life expectancy can vary considerably among different people. Some of these variables include:
  • Your particular lung cancer type and location – Stage 2 lung cancer encompasses several lung cancer types, and includes cancers that are small but have spread to nearby lymph nodes, or larger but have not spread to any lymph nodes
  • Your age – Younger people tend to live longer than older people with lung cancer
  • Your sex – The life expectancy for woman with lung cancer is higher at each stage of lung cancer
  • Your general health at the time of diagnosis – Being healthy overall at the time of diagnosis is associated with a longer life expectancy, and a greater ability to withstand treatments that may extend survival
  • How you respond to treatment – Side effects of treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapies, and radiation therapy vary among different people, and may limit your ability to tolerate treatment
  • Other health conditions you may have – Health conditions such as emphysema or heart disease may lower stage 2 lung cancer life expectancy
  • Complications of lung cancer – Complications such as blood clots can lower stage 2 lung cancer life expectancy
  • Smoking - Continued smoking after a diagnosis of stage 2 lung cancer appears to lower survival

Statistics

In addition to variations between different people, it is important to keep in mind that statistics are frequently a few years old. For example, the most recent statistics we have for lung cancer are from 2006. With advances in treatment, statistics may not be the same as they were when newer treatments were unavailable.

That said, the overall survival rate, that is the percent of people who are expected to be alive 5 years after a diagnosis of stage 2 lung cancer is 40 to 50%. For individuals with large tumors that have not yet spread to any lymph nodes, the survival rate may be somewhat higher. Several treatments are currently being evaluated in clinical trials, and offer hope that stage 2 lung cancer life expectancy will improve in the future.

Further Reading:

Sources:

Kelsey, C. et al. Local/regional recurrence following surgery for early-stage lung cancer: A 10-year experience with 975 patients. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2008. 26, No 15S(May 20 Suppl):7542.

National Cancer Institute. Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment (PDQ). Stage II Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. Updated 06/22/10. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/non-small-cell-lung/HealthProfessional/page9

Parsons, A. et al. Influence of smoking cessation after diagnosis of early-stage lung cancer on prognosis: systematic review of observational studies with meta-analysis. British Medical Journal BMJ2010;340:b5569. Published online 21 January 2010.

Scott, W. et al. Treatment of Non-small Cell Lung Cancer Stage I and Stage II: ACCP Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines (2nd Edition). Chest. 2007. 132(3 Suppl):234S-242S.

Wisnivesky, J. et al. Prognosis of stage II non-small cell lung cancer according to tumor and nodal status at diagnosis. Lung Cancer. 2005. 49(2):181-186.

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