Lung Cancer Survival Rate

What Is Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer refers to the growth of malignant cells in the lung. Although lung cancer begins in the lungs, the disease can quickly spread to other organs if not treated promptly. Lung cancer accounts for approximately one in every five cancer fatalities and is the most prevalent cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. According to data, there will be around 238,340 new lung cancer cases in 2023, out of which 127,070 will result in fatalities.

Categorized as a malignant neoplasm, the ICD-10 code for lung cancer is C34. 90. The lung ICD-10 is an international classification system for the condition in the ICD-10 diagnosis codes list.

In this article, we will cover information on lung cancer, including its survival rate, and go over lung cancer types, diagnosis, staging, treatments, and other variables that may impact its survival rate. [1]

Types of Lung Cancer

The common types of lung cancers include [2]:

  • Lung adenocarcinoma is among the most prevalent lung cancers diagnosed in the US. It usually develops in the bronchi lining or the lung's outer edges. This kind of cancer falls within the NSCLC category and is strongly linked with smoking. Despite declining mortality and incidence, it remains the top contributor to cancer-related deaths in the US.
  • Lung Nodules refer to small tissue masses (neoplasms) that can be precancerous, metastatic, or benign tumors passed on to the lung from other organs. A bigger nodule is more likely to be malignant than a minor one.
  • Mesothelioma is a more uncommon type of cancer that develops in the lungs. Scientists link this form of cancer to Asbestos exposure. It makes up around 5% of the overall cases of lung cancer. Mesothelioma can develop over 30-50 years. Hence, most people who acquire this specific type of cancer have long worked in environments with a high proportion of asbestos particles.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer?

Although the symptoms of lung cancer can vary from patient to patient, the common signs and symptoms of lung cancer include [3]:

  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Coughing up blood.
  • Appetite loss.
  • Fatigue.
  • Sudden weight loss.
  • Chest discomfort.
  • Wheezing.
  • Severe coughing that doesn't go away.

It is important to remember that although these symptoms signal lung cancer, they can also happen due to other diseases. If you are experiencing more than one of these symptoms, it's best to talk to a medical health professional to rule out the disease.

Lung Cancer Diagnosis and Staging

How is Lung Cancer Diagnosed?

When a patient consults a doctor about complaints of signs and symptoms of lung cancer, the doctor may run several tests to rule out the disease, including [4]:

  • Positron emission tomography (PET).
  • Computed tomography (CT).
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Apart from these tests, medical health professionals may also conduct patient examinations, wedge resection, ultrasound, mediastinoscopy, biopsy, or thoracoscopy to determine if a patient has lung cancer.

Lung Cancer Staging

Lung cancer is divided into stages 0 to IV, with the severity of the disease progressing with each stage. NSCLC stages include [5]:

Stage 0, also called situ, is when the lung cancer is in place and has yet to spread to nearby lung tissue.

Stage I is when a small tumor has developed. However, it has not spread to the nearby lymph nodes. Stage I of lung cancer is further divided into IA and IB.

Stage II is classified into two subtypes: IIA and IIB, with IIA describing a tumor within the size of 4 to 5 cm and IIB representing a tumor larger than 5cm.

Stage III of lung cancer is divided into three categories: IIIA, IIIB, or IIIC, with each stage representing different sizes of tumors. Stage III cancer usually spreads to a large portion of the lymph nodes.

Stage IV is the most severe stage of lung cancer since the disease has metastasized and spread to the lining of the lung and other organs like the heart, brain, and liver.

Is Lung Cancer Hereditary?

Multiple studies have revealed a relationship between genetic variables and lung cancer development. Therefore, a family history of lung cancer may increase the risk of lung cancer in both smokers and nonsmokers. However, more research is necessary for scientists to fully understand the genetics involved in the development of lung cancer.

Furthermore, lung cancer may run in certain families for reasons other than genetics. These factors include shared environments and lifestyle habits like smoking. Studies indicate that children who live with smokers are prone to develop a smoking habit when they grow up. Hence, these children are more likely to get a lung cancer diagnosis since smoking is the leading cause of the disease [6][7].

Lung Cancer Survival Rate

Survival rates can help patients understand how long people diagnosed with the same lung cancer stage live following diagnosis. The survival rate is generally calculated for the five years following the diagnosis. However, remember that every case is different.

Survival rate figures are often based on the outcomes of a significant number of cancer patients, which is insufficient to accurately estimate your case's outcome. These statistics may often cause patients to feel alarmed and confused. If you have similar concerns, talk to your doctor about them, and they will help you better understand your case's survival rates.

What Is the Survival Rate for Lung Cancer?

According to NCI, the five-year survival rate for lung cancer can change slightly depending on the severity of a case. The SEER database, which NCI relies upon for information on survival rates, records the 5-year survival rates for lung cancers depending on how far the disease has progressed. Furthermore, the SEER database does not classify cancer by its various stages. Instead, it classifies cancer into three stages [8]:

  • Localized: Cancer does not appear to have spread beyond the lung.
  • Regional: Cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and the surrounding tissues outside the lung's lining.
  • Distant: Cancer has progressed to organs like the brain, bones, and the other lung (carcinomatosis).

These figures only represent the cancer's stage at the initial diagnosis. They are not applicable if cancer spreads, grows, or reappears following treatment. Moreover, these statistics don't account for everything. This is because the survival rate is calculated based on how far the disease may have spread. However, the prognosis can also be influenced by other variables, including gene alterations in the cancerous cells, lung cancer subtypes, overall health and age, and how the disease reacts to therapy.

Moreover, the survival rates for lung cancer have been improving with the help of the discovery of new treatment options. Therefore, individuals now being diagnosed with SCLC AND NSCLC can expect better outcomes than these figures. These statistics have been calculated on persons who received cancer diagnosis and treatment at least five years ago, and therapies have improved significantly in the last five years.

Survival Rate of Lung Cancer in Women Vs. Survival Rate of Lung Cancer in Men

The survival rate of lung cancer can vary in men and women. Studies show that the 5-year survival rate for women with NSCLC is 33%, whereas the 5-year survival rate for men with similar diagnoses is 23%.

Furthermore, studies have shown that lung cancer symptoms, investigations, tumor locations, and stages are identical in both women and men. The distribution of the various histologic types of lung cancer is where the differences lie. According to a study, men are more likely to receive a squamous cell lung carcinoma diagnosis than women, whereas women are more likely to develop small lung cancer [9][10].

1 Note that here, we are using the terms “women” and “men” to refer to female and male biological sex at birth, respectively.

Lung Cancer Treatment Options

There are several treatment options available for lung cancer. The type of treatment option a medical health professional advises you depends on your stage and severity of cancer. Some common treatment options for lung cancer include [11]:

  • Radiation therapy.
  • Surgery.
  • Immunotherapy.
  • Targeted therapy.
  • Chemotherapy.
  • Supportive/Palliative Care.

What works for one patient may now work for the other. Hence, patients may have to undergo more than one lung cancer treatment to discover a treatment option that works for them.

Clinical Trials for Lung Cancer

If a lung cancer patient is unresponsive to conventional therapy or does not choose to pursue the treatment options listed above, they may enroll in lung cancer clinical trials. Clinical trials are research investigations in which new treatments and therapies for a specific condition are tested. They are an absolute necessity for advancing medical knowledge and are why the healthcare industry has succeeded so significantly in recent decades.

If patients are interested in participating in a lung cancer clinical trial, they can visit Power to locate clinical trials that are a good fit for them. Furthermore, patients can use Leal Health to obtain information about ongoing clinical trials nearby.



Although lung cancer is a severe and life-threatening illness, the survival rates can be promising with early detection and immediate treatment. It is important to be aware of the symptoms of lung cancer, such as persistent cough, wheezing, and shortness of breath, and seek immediate medical attention if you experience one or more of these symptoms.

Working closely with your healthcare provider to develop an effective treatment plan tailored directly to your case can help you manage the symptoms and increase your chances of survival.