Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Survival Rates, by Stage

Survival rates tell you what portion of people with the same type and stage of cancer are still alive a certain amount 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. 

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 80% means that an estimated 80 out of 100 people who have that cancer are still alive 5 years after being diagnosed. Keep in mind, however, that many of these people live much longer than 5 years after diagnosis.

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

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 keep in mind:

  • The numbers below are among the most current available. But to get 5-year survival rates, doctors have to look at people who were treated at least 5 years ago. As treatments are improving over time, people who are now being diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) 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 later come back or spread, for example.
  • The outlook for people with NSCLC varies by the stage (extent) of the cancer – in general, the survival rates are higher for people with earlier stage cancers. But many other factors can affect a person’s outlook, such as the subtype of NSCLC, gene changes in the cancer cells, the person’s age and overall health, and how well the cancer responds to treatment. The outlook for each person is specific to his or her circumstances.

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

Survival rates for non-small cell lung cancer, by stage

The numbers below come from thousands of people from all over the world who were diagnosed with NSCLC between 1999 and 2010. Although the numbers are based on people diagnosed several years ago, they are the most recent rates published for the current AJCC staging system.

These survival rates include people who die from causes other than cancer.

  • The 5-year survival rate for people with stage IA1 NSCLC is about 92%. For people with stage IA2 NSCLC, the 5-year survival rate is about 83%. For people with stage IA3 NSCLC, the 5-year survival rate is about 77%.
  • The 5-year survival rate for people with stage IB NSCLC is about 68%.
  • For stage IIA cancer, the 5-year survival rate is about 60%. For stage IIB cancer, the survival rate is about 53%.
  • The 5-year survival rate for stage IIIA NSCLC is about 36%. For stage IIIB cancers the survival rate is about 26%. For stage IIIC cancers the survival rate is about 13%.
  • NSCLC that has spread to other parts of the body is often hard to treat. The 5-year survival rate for stage IVA NSCLC is about 10%, and for stage IVB the 5-year survival rate is less than 1%. Still, there are often many treatment options available for people with these stages of cancer. 

Remember, these survival rates are only estimates – they can’t predict what will happen to any individual person. We understand that these statistics can be confusing and may lead you to have more questions. Talk to your doctor to better understand your specific situation.

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.

Goldstraw P, Chansky K, Crowley J, et al. The IASLC Lung Cancer Staging Project: Proposals for Revision of the TNM Stage Groupings in the Forthcoming (Eighth) Edition of the TNM Classification for Lung Cancer. J Thorac Oncol. 2016;11(1):39-51.

Last Medical Review: December 18, 2017 Last Revised: December 18, 2017

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