Help someone with useful health advice.

Small Cell Lung Cancer Life Expectancy

Small Cell Lung Cancer Life Expectancy

In small cell lung cancer 'extensive stage', the average life expectancy is believed to be 9 to 12 months; and if the person does not opt for proper treatment, it can go down to 4 to 6 months.
Abhijit Naik
Last Updated: Jan 21, 2018
Approximately 15 percent of the people diagnosed with lung cancer suffer from small cell lung cancer (SCLC). Even though that is less than one-fifth of the total cases, its aggressive nature and the tendency to spread to the other parts of the body make it one of the most dreaded diseases today.
An Overview
Small cell lung cancer is a type of cancer, typically characterized by the development of cancerous cells in the tissues in the central area of the lungs. Based on the type of cancerous cells and their appearance under a microscope, it is further categorized into two types

» Small cell carcinoma
» Combined small cell carcinoma

One of the major causes of small cell lung cancer is smoking. Both active and passive smokers are vulnerable to this disease. Its symptoms include cough, difficulty in breathing, sudden weight loss, chest pain, and swelling of the face. Physical examination, lung biopsy and CT scan are commonly used diagnostic tools for this condition, while treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Life Expectancy
The life expectancy in case of small cell lung cancer by and large depends on the stage at which it was detected, and the treatment that the person is subjected to. Other variables include the general health of the individual at the time of diagnosis, health conditions (if any), patient's response to the treatment, etc. In order to facilitate proper treatment, the medical fraternity has divided the ailment into two stages -

» Limited stage - Cancerous cells affect only one lung and lymph nodes on the same side
» Extensive stage - The malignant cells spread to both the lungs and lymph nodes extend even further to other organs.

Around 60-70 percent of the people are already in the extensive stage at the time of diagnosis. In this stage, the life expectancy is approximately 1 year, i.e. 12 months. If the patient undergoes radiation therapy, the life expectancy may increase to 20 months, and a combination of thermal ablation and radiation therapy can increase it to 42 months. Even though it is possible to increase the life expectancy of this condition by opting for surgical treatment, most of the patients don't qualify for surgery owing to late diagnosis, age or some underlying medical condition.
5-year Relative Survival Rate

The term 5 year relative survival rate refers to the percentage of people who live for 5 years or more after the disease is diagnosed. On an average, small cell lung cancer survival rate is only 6 percent; i.e. only 6 percent of those diagnosed with this condition live for 5 years or more.
In Case of Treatment with Radiation Therapy

Years Survival Rates (%)
1 Year 57
2 Year 36
3 Year 21

In Case of Treatment with Thermal Ablation and Radiation Therapy

Years Survival Rates (%)
1 Year 87
2 Year 70
3 Year 57

On an average a person in the extensive stage will live for somewhere between 9 to 11 months and a person in the limited stage will live for 16 to 22 months after the condition is diagnosed.
It is important to note that the survival rates are estimated figures derived from the statistical data of previous patients. As a number of factors come into play when it comes to small cell lung cancer prognosis, the survival rates calculated over a period cannot be used to determine the future of a particular case.
Disclaimer: This article is purely for the purpose of providing information, and should not be used as a substitute for medical advice.