There are many different aspects to consider when estimating the life expectancy of a Stage 4 lung cancer patient. Lung cancer is usually broken down into four main stages:
Stage 1 – The cancer is small and localized in only one area of the lung.
Stages 2 and 3 – The cancer is larger and may have grown into the surrounding tissues, where cancer cells may be found in the lymph nodes.
Stage 4 – The cancer has spread outside the lung to another part of the body (secondary or metastatic cancer).
When Stage 4 of the disease has been reached, the cancer is no longer contained within the lung, and has spread to one or more parts of the body, either through the bloodstream, or the lymph system (a collection of vessels that carry fluid and immune system cells).
Stage 4 of the disease is therefore the most dangerous and life threatening stage for a patient. Because lung cancer usually takes many years slowly growing in the body before it is diagnosed, Stage 4 of the disease is the most commonly found in a patient.
The survival rate (the life expectancy of a Stage 4 patient) can vary from patient to patient, making it difficult to give an exact figure. These different variables can be broken down into the following:
1. The particular type of lung cancer, and its exact location. Stage 4 lung cancer consists of several different types of cancer, and includes those that have not just spread to one other part of the body, but those that have also spread to various parts.
2. The sex of a patient is an important factor, as a woman has a higher survival rate through each stage of the disease than a man does.
3. The condition of the patient (health wise) has a large bearing on the life expectancy of a patient. A healthy patient has a greater life expectancy due to being able to withstand better the different stages of treatment.
4. A younger patient is likely to survive longer than an older patient, as the bodies organs are usually more responsive to treatment, and are usually in a better condition.
5. The ability to respond to different treatments such as Chemotherapy, Immunotherapy, Stereotatic Body Radiosurgery, or even Surgery, is another factor to consider.
6. A patient who suffers from other conditions, such as emphysema (damaged air spaces within the lungs), may also have a lower Stage 4 life expectancy.
7. Complications during the various treatments of a patient will help decide how long a patient may or may not live, after all the treatments are finished.
After taking all of these factors into account, the average survival rate for a lung cancer patient could be considered to be five years or less, from the time of diagnosis.