One of the first things I did after my diagnosis was to search for “average life expectancy” for someone with my condition. I quickly realised that it was a futile exercise as it cannot be predicted with accuracy but overall prognosis is not good, as these examples from the internet show:
It is important to keep in mind that statistics are frequently based on people treated a few years back. For example, the most recent statistics for lung cancer from 2015 are based on people diagnosed with lung cancer between 2007 and 2011.
The median stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer life expectancy (the time at which 50% of patients are alive and 50% have passed away) is only around 8 months. The 5-year survival rate, that is the percent of people who are expected to be alive 5 years after a diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer is sadly only 4%.
The most advanced stage of lung cancer is Stage 4. It means that the cancer has spread. Understandably, the survival statistics are very low for this stage. Unfortunately, lung cancer is often diagnosed late and for many people the cancer has already spread when they are diagnosed. Only between 2 and 13 out of every 100 people diagnosed with stage 4 non small cell lung cancer (2% to 13%) will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis.
During the 2-year period, 91 of 878 patients (10.4%) developed brain metastases. Median age in this cohort was 64 years. In 45, brain metastases were present at initial diagnosis, and in 46, brain metastases developed later in the course of the illness. Median survival in the entire cohort was 7.8 months. Among patients who received chemotherapy, the survival of patients with brain metastases at diagnosis was still poor (6.2 months). Our data show limited survival in patients with brain metastases from nsclc.
Brain metastases (BM) are a common and lethal complication of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which portend a poor prognosis. Despite these grim realities, there is room for optimism among identifiable subsets of these patients. A recent published series of NSCLC patients with synchronous BM receiving surgery or radiosurgery to the brain and aggressive management of their extracranial disease reported a median overall survival (OS) of 12.1 months. Improved surgical techniques and radiation therapy (RT) technology, as well as more effective systemic treatments and multimodality approaches have led to these superior outcomes
The chart below shows the cancer survival rates for a group of 1,309 metastatic non-small cell lung cancer patients who were diagnosed between 2000 and 2011 in the USA.
Stage IV non-small cell lung cancer cannot be cured, but treatment can reduce pain, ease breathing, and extend and improve quality of life.
It has been 7 months since my diagnosis, although I know I’ve had it for much longer. I feel good and healthy and am living for each day. Another five years or more is not impossible. I would like to be the one to beat the odds.
The photo below, taken at Christmas, was 6 months after my diagnosis.