The length of time a person can live depends on what stage of cancer is in when diagnosed, how well the cancer responds to therapy and what mutations the cancer cells have.
- Stage 1: The cancer is small and limited to the lung. It can be treated with either surgery or radiation therapy alone. These patients have the best chance for cure and survival.
- Stage 2: The cancer is either larger, has grown into the chest wall, or has spread to local lymph nodes. Multiple different types of treatment are required, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgical resection. Survival in this stage is worse than that seen for patients in stage 1.
- Stage 3: The cancer has spread to regional lymph nodes and tumors may have grown into other organs. Multiple types of treatments are required. For some patients, surgical removal of tumors is no longer an option. Survival in this stage is worse than that seen for patients in stage 2.
- Stage 4: Cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Patients do not typically have a chance at long-term cure with surgery. They typically undergo chemotherapy and are occasionally treated with radiation to help with their symptoms. The chance of long-term survival is worst in this stage of lung cancer.