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What is Squamous Cell Lung Cancer Prognosis?


Updated May 16, 2014

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

Question: What is Squamous Cell Lung Cancer Prognosis?

Before answering the question “what is squamous cell lung cancer prognosis,” it is important to talk about what these numbers mean. First of all, everyone is different. Statistics tell us what the “average” course or survival is, but they don’t tell us anything about specific individuals. Many factors can affect the prognosis of squamous cell lung cancer. It is also helpful to keep in mind that statistics are based on information that may be several years old. As new treatments become available, these numbers may not accurately reflect what your prognosis is today.

Squamous Cell Lung Cancer Prognosis - Variables

Some of the factors that can affect squamous cell lung cancer prognosis include:
  • The stage of your cancer – Early stage squamous cell carcinoma (for example, stage 1 or stage 2) has a better prognosis than later stage cancers (such as stage 3 or stage 4).

  • Your age – Younger people tend to live longer than older people with lung cancer.

  • Your sex – The life expectancy for women with lung cancer is higher at each stage of the disease.

  • 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, may lower lung cancer life expectancy.

  • Complications of lung cancer – Complications, such as blood clots, can lower lung cancer life expectancy.

Squamous Cell Lung Cancer Prognosis - Statistics

In addition to variations between different people, prognosis can change with time as better treatments become available. The most recent statistics we have for lung cancer are from 2006, and may not accurately predict your prognosis if you are treated with methods that were unavailable at that time.

Most of the statistics we have look at all types of non-small cell lung cancer grouped together. Of these, the prognosis for squamous cell carcinoma is somewhat lower than that for adenocarcinoma, but more optimistic than for large cell lung cancer.

That said, the average 5-year survival rates for non-small cell lung cancer are:

One last thing that is very important to keep in mind -- even if a squamous cell lung cancer is not curable, it is treatable. These treatments may not only improve survival, but may help with the symptoms of lung cancer as well. Several treatments are currently being evaluated in clinical trials, and offer hope that squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs prognosis will improve in the future.

Further Reading:


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Lung Cancer Statistics. Updated 08/05/10. http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/lung/statistics/

National Cancer Institute. Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment (PDQ). Updated 08/06/10. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/non-small-cell-lung/Patient

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