Lung Carcinoid Tumors Survival Rates

Survival rates tell you what portion of people with the same type and stage of cancer are still alive a certain length of time (usually 5 years) after they were diagnosed. These numbers can’t tell you how long you will live, but they may help give you a better understanding about how likely it is that your treatment will be successful. Some people will want to know the survival rates for their cancer type and stage, and some people won’t. If you don’t want to know, you don’t have to.

What is a 5-year survival rate?

Statistics on the outlook for a certain type and stage of cancer are often given as 5-year survival rates, but many people live longer – often much longer – than 5 years. The 5-year survival rate is the percentage of people who live at least 5 years after being diagnosed with cancer. For example, a 5-year survival rate of 90% means that an estimated 90 out of 100 people who have that cancer are still alive 5 years after being diagnosed.

Relative survival rates are a more accurate way to estimate the effect of cancer on survival. These rates compare people with lung carcinoid tumors to people in the overall population. For example, if the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific type and stage of cancer is 90%, it means that people who have that cancer are, on average, about 90% as likely as people who don’t have that cancer to live for at least 5 years after being diagnosed.

But remember, the 5-year relative survival rates are estimates – your outlook can vary based on a number of factors specific to you.

Cancer survival rates don’t tell the whole story

Survival rates are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had the disease, but they can’t predict what will happen in any particular person’s case. There are a number of limitations to remember:

  • The numbers below are among the most current available. But to get 5-year survival rates, doctors look at people who were treated at least 5 years ago. As treatments are improving over time, people who are now being diagnosed with lung carcinoid tumors may have a better outlook than these statistics show.
  • These statistics are based on the stage of the cancer when it was first diagnosed. They do not apply to cancers that come back later or spread, for example.
  • Besides the cancer stage, many other factors can affect a person's outlook, such as age and overall health, and how well the cancer responds to treatment.

Your doctor can tell you how these numbers may apply to you, as he or she is familiar with the aspects of your particular situation.

Lung carcinoid tumor survival rates, by stage

Overall, the 5-year survival rate for patients with typical lung carcinoids is around 85% to 90%, and the 5-year survival rate for patients with atypical lung carcinoids is around 50% to 75%. These ranges reflect different survival rates quoted by several different studies in medical journals.

Lung carcinoids are uncommon tumors, so it’s hard to get accurate, up-to-date survival statistics for these cancers based on stage. The numbers below come from a study of more than 1,400 people in the United States who were diagnosed with lung carcinoid tumors between 1990 and 2002 and were treated with surgery. They include some people who died from causes other than their cancer.

Stage

5-year Survival Rate

I

93%

II

85%

III

75%

IV

57%

These numbers include people with both typical and atypical carcinoids, but survival rates would be expected to be slightly better for typical carcinoids and not as good overall for atypical carcinoids.

Even with carcinoids that appear to have been treated successfully, in a small number of cases the cancer can come back (recur) many years later, which is why doctors often advise close follow-up for at least 10 years.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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Thomas CF, Jett JR, Strosberg JR. Lung neuroendocrine (carcinoid) tumors: Treatment and prognosis. UpToDate website. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/lung-neuroendocrine-carcinoid-tumors-treatment-and-prognosis. Updated Feb. 6, 2018. Accessed July 17, 2018.

Travis WD, Giroux DJ, Chansky K, et al. The IASLC Lung Cancer Staging Project: Proposals for the inclusion of broncho-pulmonary carcinoid tumors in the forthcoming (seventh) edition of the TNM Classification for Lung Cancer. J Thorac Oncol. 2008;3:1213-1223.

Last Medical Review: August 28, 2018 Last Revised: August 28, 2018

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