Non-Small Cell Lung Carcinoma: Life Expectancy and Prognosis

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  • Non-Small Cell Lung Carcinoma: Introduction

    Non-Small Cell Lung Carcinoma: Introduction

    Non-small cell lung carcinoma is a type of lung cancer also commonly referred to as non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). This is a dangerous disease that can immediately affect your quality of life by causing breathing difficulties.

    But that’s not the only danger this cancer poses: it can be life threatening. Early detection is key to getting the treatment needed to prolong your life.

  • Causes and Spread of NSCLC

    Causes and Spread of NSCLC

    NSCLC occurs when healthy cells become abnormal (tumors) and grow rapidly. The danger with this form of cancer is that there’s a high likelihood that the tumors will spread from the lungs to other organs and body parts.

    There’s no single cause of NSCLC, although smoking puts you at a high risk. Other risk factors include exposure to air pollution and chemicals, as well as family history of the disease.

  • Small vs. Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

    Small vs. Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

    There are numerous types of carcinomas, or abnormal cells that divide, which occur on the outer edges of body tissues. When it comes to lung cancer, there are two main types of cells: small and non-small. According to the American Cancer Society, up to 90 percent of all lung carcinomas fall into the non-small cell category.

    NSCLC doesn’t spread as fast as small cell lung carcinomas. For this reason, the prognosis and survival rate is better for NSCLC.

  • Subtypes


    Both types of lung cancer have different subtypes that can affect your overall prognosis. The main subtypes of NSCLC are:

    • adenocarcinoma: starts in the outer part of lungs
    • squamous cell carcinoma: starts in the middle portion of lungs
    • undifferentiated carcinoma: fast-growing cells that can start in any portion of the lungs

    The American Cancer Society reports that adenocarcinoma is more common in women than it is in men, and it accounts for 40 percent of all cases of NSCLC. Even non-smokers can get this type of lung cancer, and more young people get it than other types of cancer.

  • The Five-Year Survival Rate

    The Five-Year Survival Rate

    Survival rates for cancers like NSCLC are based on the “five-year survival rate.” Your doctor will look at statistics from patients at similar stages of lung cancer to make this type of prognosis. The rate is then calculated based on a survival of five years or longer from the time of diagnosis.

    Keep in mind that there isn’t necessarily a definitive five-year cutoff, and many people live a lot longer than this. The rate is designed as a guide only.

  • Stages of NSCLC

    Stages of NSCLC

    Numerous factors can determine your five-year survival rate. One major factor is the stage of cancer in which you’re diagnosed. The American Cancer Society breaks down the estimated survival rates based on each stage of NSCLC cancer:

    • IA: 49 percent
    • IB: 45 percent
    • IIA: 30 percent
    • IIB: 31 percent
    • IIIA: 14 percent
    • IIIB: 5 percent
    • IV: 1 percent

    Remember that these are estimates of a five-year survival rate from NSCLC based on past patient experiences.

  • Treatment Does Not Mean Cure

    Treatment Does Not Mean Cure

    As of 2014, there is no cure for NSCLC. The purpose of treatment is to improve your quality of life and to prevent the cancer from spreading (metastasis). Your chances for survival are best when this type of cancer is caught early.

    See your doctor promptly if you experience signs of lung cancer, including:

    • recurrent cough
    • shortness of breath
    • chest pain
    • coughing up blood
    • unintentional weight loss
  • Symptoms Affect Prognosis

    Symptoms Affect Prognosis

    Certain symptoms can indicate NSCLC, but they can also hinder treatment efforts. Breathing difficulties might make prognosis for this cancer unfavorable. Furthermore, treatment measures might prove ineffective depending on the severity of symptoms.

    Your best shot at recovery is to catch the carcinoma early. Trust your instincts and see a doctor if your body doesn’t feel right. An appointment just might save your life.