Small Cell Lung Cancer Life Expectancy

Nearly 15% of people are diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. Unsurprisingly, this condition is more prevalent in men than in women. Though, this constitutes only 15% of total lung cancer cases, its tendency to spread to other body parts and aggressive nature make it the most dreadful disease today. In fact, a glance at the survival rates of small cell lung cancer patients is enough for a layman to understand the severity of the disease. Let us read about the small cell lung cancer life expectancy.

Small Cell Lung Cancer Life Expectancy:

Small cell lung cancer life expectancy depends mostly on the treatment. For facilitating proper treatment, the medical fraternity has categorized the condition into two stages:

  • Extensive Stage:

    Cancerous cells spread to both lymph nodes and lungs as well as extend to other organs.

  • Limited Stage:

    The malignant cells affect lymph nodes and a lung on the same side.

In extensive stage, life expectancy of small cell lung cancer is about 12 months, that is 1 year. However, life expectancy may increase to 20 months if the patient undergoes a radiation therapy, while a combination of radiation therapy and thermal ablation increases life expectancy to 42 months. Survival rates of small cell lung cancer patients depend on when it was detected.

Treatment with Radiation Therapy and Thermal Ablation:


Survival Rates

1st Year 87%
2nd Year 70%
3rd Year 21%

Survival Rates with Radiation Therapy:


Survival Rates

1st Year 57%
2nd Year 36%
3rd Year 21%

Five Year Life Expectancy for Small Cell Lung Cancer:

Five-year relative survival rate is the percentage of patients who survive for 5 or more years after diagnosing the disease.


Survival Rates

I 31%
II 19%
III 8%
IV 2%

Hence, the survival rates of people with small cell lung cancer vary with age. Though, it is difficult to increase the life expectancy of small cell lung cancer patients through surgical treatment, many patients are not eligible for surgery owing to age, late diagnosis and certain underlying health conditions.

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