What Is the Survival Rate for Lung Cancer Nodules?

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

What does it mean when a doctor says you have lung cancer and you ask what kind and he says nodule? What are the survival rates for this kind of cancer?

Doctor's response

Simply put, lung cancer comes in two varieties, small cell and non-small cell. The primary treatment for small cell type is chemotherapy. The primary treatment for non-small cell type is surgery.

Before surgery can be performed, the extent of the cancer must be determined . This is referred to as staging. The stage of the cancer predicts the chance for survival after therapy. The less the cancer has spread, the greater the chance for long term survival.

Stage I cancer includes those tumors that are small and only are located in the tissue of one lung. This often includes tumors about the size of a golf ball. These are often referred to as nodules on x-ray. Surgery with this limited extent of disease can result in 80-90% cure rates.

As the tumor spreads into the lymph nodes of the lung, then the chest, and then to other parts of the body, the staging number increases. The higher the stage, the less the chance for cure.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Reviewed on 1/11/2018