The answer to this question depends on the stage of the lung cancer. If the lung cancer is diagnosed in an early stage, this is potentially a curative disease and can be often cured with surgery or radiation or chemotherapy. However, if the lung cancer is diagnosed with late stage, this is not usually a curative disease and the life expectancy depends on multiple factors. A lot of that depends on the stage of the disease, the site of metastases, the performance status of the patient, in other words, how good general health the person is, and the nature of the lung cancer. In short, there is no one answer to this question. We now know that we can identify a separate group of patients with variable types of lung cancer and their survival rates are different. In conclusion, I would like to say that every person with lung cancer is different and their survival depends on multiple factors.
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The Society of Thoracic Surgeons answeredMany believe that the diagnosis of lung cancer is a death sentence. The reality is that survival with lung cancer depends on the stage of the disease once diagnosed, what treatments are utilized and what other medical problems the patient may have. Stage I lung cancer is usually treated with surgery and is curable in 60 to 80% of cases. This means that between 60 and 80 out of 100 patients with stage I lung cancer remain alive 5 years after having their lung cancer removed. After 5 years, such patients remain at risk to develop another lung cancer and should have continued annual surveillance by their surgeon, oncologist or primary physician. Most patients who are cured have a normal life expectancy. In contrast, stage IV lung cancer is essentially incurable with fewer than 5% of patients alive 5 years after diagnosis. The expected survival for patients with stage II and stage III disease lies between this and the stage I values. These figures assume that patients receive and tolerate treatment that can include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and/or surgery in a variety of combinations and sequences. If lung cancer is diagnosed but not treated, the average time to death is about one year.