The survival rates of lung cancer are based upon several factors, including the severity of the disease, how far it has spread in the patient's body, whether it is small cell or non-small cell and the general health of the patient. Outside factors like gender and race can also play a part. These numbers are an indication of how many patients survive for five years or more with the disease, but do not indicate the type of treatment the patient is receiving or whether the disease was cured or merely managed.
The general health of a patient can affect their ability to survive for five years or longer. Those in good health have a higher rate of survival. In any form or stage of cancer, a patient who has strong, healthy lungs in general will be able to survive longer than someone who is unhealthy. Having other medical conditions unrelated to the disease can also bring down survival percentages.
Gender may also be a factor in the survival rate. Women tend to have a higher survival rate than men in all stages and forms of lung cancer. The overall five-year rate is 16 percent for women and 12 percent for men. The reason for this disparity is not yet known. Researchers understand that cancer is different for women than men, but aren't yet sure why. Some have posited that genetic differences may cause women to be more vulnerable to the disease and that the hormone estrogen could somehow affect the development of the cancer.
Another factor in the survival rate equation is race. Black males tend to have the lowest five-year survival of all patients with lung cancer, followed by white men. Men of other races, such as Asian, American Indian and Hispanic, followed white men. Again, the reasons for this difference in survival rate are not entirely clear.
Smoking contributes not only to the risk of developing lung cancer, but also to the chances of increasing the death rate in those who already have the disease. Those who smoked before being diagnosed but were able to quit smoking after being diagnosed were twice as likely to survive for five years or more than those who did not quit. This may be related to the general health issues related to smoking. In a patient with lung cancer, the hazardous affects of smoking on the entire body can play into survival rate.
No matter how they got lung cancer, a patient's treatment will play into their chances for survival. Patients who are able to tolerate treatment have a higher survival rate than those who are too ill to get treatment for the disease.
Other factors have to do more with the lung cancer itself. For example, a patient who has just been diagnosed with lung cancer will have a higher chance of survival than someone who was previously diagnosed. Those with recurring lung cancer that has returned after already being treated have a lower rate of survival at the five-year mark.
All of these factors and the corresponding five-year survival rates are approximate however. Every patient will be different. Individual factors will always come into play when assessing the survival of lung cancer. All statistics can do is give a general idea of what has occurred to a similar group of people.