Stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer (metastatic lung cancer) is the most advanced stage of lung cancer. Nearly 40% of people newly diagnosed with lung cancer already have stage 4 disease. Stage 4 lung cancer is not curable, but it is treatable, and many clinical trials are in progress looking at new treatments to improve survival.
Stage 4 lung cancer life expectancy can vary considerably among different people. Some of these variables include: your particular lung cancer type and location, your age, your sex, your general health at the time of diagnosis, how you respond to treatment, other health conditions you may have, complications of lung cancer. The cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver, bones or brain. In addition to variations between different people, it is important to keep in mind that statistics are frequently a few years old. For example, the most recent statistics we have for lung cancer are from 2005. With advances in treatment, statistics may not be the same as they were when newer treatments were unavailable. Recent findings indicate that 5-year survival rates approach 85% among patients who are younger than 30 years of age and have surgically removable lung cancers. Screening for lung cancer is controversial among doctors. Studies are ongoing to determine what types of tests may be helpful and who would benefit from lung cancer screening. That said, 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 less than 10%. Studies suggest that learning what you can about your lung cancer can improve your quality of life, and possibly even your outcome. Ask questions. Never lose hope, even if you have chosen not to pursue further treatment. Because stage 4 lung cancer has spread beyond the lungs it is considered inoperable, that is, surgery would be unable to remove all of the tumor and offer a chance for a cure. But stage 4 lung cancer is treatable.