The lifespan and survival rate of patients diagnosed with stage III lung cancer depends on the type and subtype of the cancerous tumor.
Typically, there are four stages to any cancer progression, with each stage representing the extent or spread, number and size of the tumor in the body. After identifying the stage, doctors decide on the right treatment and can determine how long a person can survive after being diagnosed with cancer.
Stage III lung cancer is the stage when the lung tumor has spread to nearby structures, including lymph nodes, tissues, or organs. Since it has not spread to distant structures, it is also called locally advanced or locoregional cancer.
What are the different types of stage III lung cancer?
Based on the type of predominant cells in the tumor, lung cancer is mainly classified into two types:
NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer, it grows more slowly and has a better chance of survival than SCLC. In comparison, SCLC is rarer but much more aggressive. The numbered stages are mainly used with the most common type, the NSCLC.
Doctors divide stage III lung cancer (like most stages) into three main subtypes. This subtyping helps doctors get more detailed information about lung cancer so that they can treat it in the best possible way.
Stage III lung cancer subtypes include:
- Stage IIIA. The cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes and may also be in some nearby tissues. However, it did not reach distant organs.
- Stage IIIB. Lung cancer has spread to the lymph nodes above the collarbone and can be found in the lymph nodes on the opposite side of the chest. Cancer can also be found in some nearby tissues, but it has not spread to distant organs.
- Stage IIIC. The cancer has spread to the lymph nodes above the collarbone or to the lymph nodes on the opposite side of the chest. The cancer may also have reached the chest wall, heart, breastbone, and other nearby tissues, but has not spread to distant organs.
What is the lifespan and survival rate of stage III lung cancer?
Lifespan depends on the stage of the tumor at the time of diagnosis and is usually predicted from survival rates.
The survival rate is analyzed in a large study, in which the lifespan of a large population, after cancer diagnosis, is observed for a specific period of time. It is generally presented as a five-year survival rate (what percentage of people lived at least five years after diagnosis).
According to the American Cancer Society (ASC), the overall five-year survival rate for stage III NSCLC is 35%. This means that people with stage III NSCLC, on average, have about a 35% chance of living at least five years after being diagnosed with cancer compared to people without the cancer.
|Steps of NSCLC||Five-year survival rate (percent)|
The overall five-year survival rate for stage III SCLC is approximately 16%.
Cancer survival rates are often used as predictors of how long patients will live beyond a certain number of years (usually at least five years) after diagnosis. However, these may vary depending on the patient’s age, general health, and response to treatments. Therefore, discuss all of these factors with your doctor to better predict your life expectancy.
Keep in mind that survival rates are calculated at a point in time, which means they may improve with the progress of treatments in subsequent years. That is why patients should always ask their doctor, even after experiencing general survival rates.
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Medical examination on 07/30/2021
American Society of Clinical Oncology. Lung Cancer – Small Cell: Statistics. https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/lung-cancer-small-cell/statistics
American Cancer Society. Lung cancer survival rate. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/lung-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/survival-rates.html
Morgan KK. Your chances of surviving lung cancer. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/lung-cancer/guide/lung-cancer-survival-rates