Lung Cancer Prognosis

A prognosis is a medical opinion as to the likely course and outcome of the disease. In the case of lung cancer, a prognosis depends on such factors as the stage and type of the disease, whether there are any symptoms (such as coughing or trouble breathing), and the general health of the patient. In addition, doctors will base their lung cancer prognosis on research collected from hundreds or even thousands of people with the disease. However, it's important to remember that a prognosis is only a prediction -- even the doctor cannot be certain of the outcome for a particular patient.

Lung Cancer Prognosis: An Overview

People who are facing lung cancer are naturally concerned about what their future holds. Understanding lung cancer and what to expect can help patients and their loved ones:
  • Plan lung cancer treatment
  • Think about lifestyle changes
  • Make decisions about their quality of life and finances.


Patients may ask their healthcare provider about their lung cancer prognosis. Others may search for lung cancer statistics on their own.


What Is a Prognosis?

A prognosis is a medical opinion as to the likely course and outcome of a disease. In other words, the prognosis is the chance that a patient will recover or have a recurrence (return of the cancer).
Many factors can affect a person's prognosis, including:
  • The type and location of the cancer
  • The stage of the disease (the extent to which the cancer has metastasized, or spread)
  • Its grade (how abnormal the cancer cells look and how quickly the cancer is likely to grow and spread)
  • The person's age, general health, and response to treatment.
When doctors determine a person's prognosis, they carefully consider all of the factors that could affect that person's disease and treatment, and then try to predict what might happen. The doctor will base the lung cancer prognosis on information researchers have collected over many years about hundreds or even thousands of people with cancer. When possible, the doctor will use statistics based on groups of people whose situations are most similar to that of an individual patient.
The doctor may speak of a favorable lung cancer prognosis if the cancer is likely to respond well to treatment. The lung cancer prognosis may be unfavorable if the cancer is likely to be difficult to control. However, it is important to keep in mind that a prognosis is only a prediction; the doctor cannot be absolutely certain about the outcome for a particular patient.
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Lung Cancer Information

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