Lung Cancer

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Winning the Battle Against Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is responsible for one-third of all cancer deaths in the United States. A stealthy disease, lung cancer takes years to develop and is often not discovered until it has spread throughout the body. 

Statistics Are Abstract; Lives Aren’t

Janet Burts, Lung Cancer Survivor Janet Burts was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2008. Her first treatment at SCCA was in a clinical trial designed to shrink her tumor, which helped to make her subsequent surgery a success. Read more about Janet.

If you do have lung cancer, where you choose to go for initial treatment has a significant impact on your likelihood of survival. The Lung Cancer Program at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) is the largest, most experienced program of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to innovations in early detection, our physician/researchers focus on the full spectrum of lung cancer treatment, from targeted chemotherapies to minimally invasive surgical techniques. More clinical studies on lung cancer are conducted at SCCA than anywhere else in the region. 

Lung Cancer Survival Rates

Below are the five-year survival rates for lung cancer patients treated by SCCA compared to patients who were treated for lung cancer elsewhere. This information was collected by the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB) for patients who were diagnosed and treated between 2003 and 2006 and then followed for five years. We're only showing survival rates for patients who were diagnosed with stage I, stage II, stage III, and stage IV lung cancer. There were not enough patients who were first diagnosed and treated at SCCA with stage 0 lung cancer to provide meaningful results.

Stage I Lung Cancer

  • SCCA patients are represented by the green line. Their five-year survival rate was 60 percent from the time they were first diagnosed by SCCA. Note that only patients who received all of their care from SCCA are included.
  • Patients from the other types of treatment centers—Community Cancer Centers, Comprehensive Community Cancer Centers, and Academic/Research Hospitals—are represented by the yellow line. Their five-year survival rate was 45 percent.

Stage II Lung Cancer

  • SCCA patients are represented by the green line. Their five-year survival rate was 49 percent from the time they were first diagnosed by SCCA. Note that only patients who received all of their care from SCCA are included.
  • Patients from the other types of treatment centers—Community Cancer Centers, Comprehensive Community Cancer Centers, and Academic/Research Hospitals—are represented by the yellow line. Their five-year survival rate was 26 percent.

Stage III Lung Cancer

  • SCCA patients are represented by the green line. Their five-year survival rate was 15 percent from the time they were first diagnosed by SCCA. Note that only patients who received all of their care from SCCA are included.
  • Patients from the other types of treatment centers—Community Cancer Centers, Comprehensive Community Cancer Centers, and Academic/Research Hospitals—are represented by the yellow line. Their five-year survival rate was 11 percent.
  • Note: While the SCCA survival rates appear to be better for stage III lung cancer, the data could not be statistically validated.

Stage IV Lung Cancer

  • SCCA patients are represented by the green line. Their five-year survival rate was 4 percent from the time they were first diagnosed by SCCA. Note that only patients who received all of their care from SCCA are included.
  • Patients from the other types of treatment centers—Community Cancer Centers, Comprehensive Community Cancer Centers, and Academic/Research Hospitals—are represented by the yellow line. Their five-year survival rate was 2 percent.
  • Note: While the SCCA survival rates appear to be better for stage IV lung cancer, the data could not be statistically validated.

The charts above include patients who were diagnosed between 2003 and 2006 and then followed for five years. The five-year observed survival rates are estimated using the actuarial method with one-month intervals. The endpoint is death from any cause (not cancer specific death); patients may have died from causes unrelated to their cancer. Calculations were performed using the NCDB Survival Reports software tool. Survival rates are not displayed when fewer than 30 cases are available, as survival rates calculated from small numbers of cases can yield misleading results and may have very wide confidence intervals.

The outcomes presented in the figures are not risk-adjusted. That is, the NCDB did not account for demographic differences (e.g., age at diagnosis, gender, socioeconomic status, and insurance status), prognostic factors, and comorbidities for SCCA and other hospitals. Also, the NCDB did not account for subjective differences in staging practices among hospitals. For example, it is possible that a cancer considered stage I at one hospital might be considered stage II at another hospital due to practice pattern variations. The outcomes comparisons presented here might have differed if the NCDB had accounted for such demographic and staging differences in our analyses.

The NCDB tracks the outcomes of 70 percent of all newly diagnosed cancer in the United States from more than 1,500 commission-accredited cancer programs. It has been collecting data from hospital cancer registries since 1989 and now has almost 30 million records.

Frequently Asked Questions

Data Collection Methodology