What Is Stage 2 Lung Cancer Life Expectancy?

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What is the survival rate of stage 2 lung cancer?. istockphoto.com

 What Is Stage 2 Lung Cancer Life Expectancy?

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.  Also - make sure to read to the bottom of this article.

Lung cancer survival is improving!

Variables Affecting Stage 2 Lung Cancer Prognosis

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 survival.
  • Smoking - Continued smoking after a diagnosis of stage 2 lung cancer appears to lower survival

    Stage 2 Lung Cancer Survival Statistics

    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 approximately 30 percent. 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.

    Survival is Improving - Special Note

    It's important to note that survival for lung cancer -- after little change in many years -- is improving. Statistics about survival are often several years old and do not reflect treatments that have been recently approved or are being used in clinical trials.  

    There have been more treatments approved for the treatment of lung cancer in the period from 2011 to 2015 than in the 40 (forty) years preceding this.

    If you have been diagnosed with lung cancer, make sure you talk to your doctor about molecular profiling (genetic testing) of your tumor.

    Targeted therapies for people with EGFR, ROS1, and ALK mutations have been changing the face of lung cancer.  Immunotherapy is also making a difference, even for people with advanced cancers. Be your own advocate. Learn about your disease. Become a part of the lung cancer community online. Also, check out these tips on improving lung cancer survival that your doctor may not mention.


    American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2014. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2014. http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@research/documents/webcontent/acspc-042151.pdf

    American Cancer Society. Lung Cancer (Non-Small Cell.) Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Survival Rates by Stage. 03/04/15. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/lungcancer-non-smallcell/detailedguide/non-small-cell-lung-cancer-survival-rates

    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) - Health Professional Version. Updated 05/11/16. http://www.cancer.gov/types/lung/hp/non-small-cell-lung-treatment-pdq#section/all

    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.

    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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