How long is the life expectancy of a d... - Lung Cancer Support

Lung Cancer Support

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How long is the life expectancy of a diagnosed lung cancer patient with a 2.5 cm lump in her lung?


I’m currently a junior in highschool and I have a sisters who’s 11. My mom (49) was diagnosed with lung cancer today with a 2.5 cm lump in her lung. I don’t know how long her life expectancy is and which stage she’s in since she has to make another appointment with a specialist. How do I make her comfortable and encourage her to be positive? She’s already planning for her funeral and will, what do I do?

22 Replies

First I would take that question off the table. Start educating yourself on type and treatment options. Second find some in your community that understands this journey and speak with them. We do not travel these roads alone. Many on this discussion have been living with cancer for years.

My wife was initially told 6 mo to 2 years

She is into her 5th year. Our first oncologist started the conversation with how much time my wife would have, we left and never went back. We found a great oncologist who was more interested with finding a treatment.

I hope this helps

Thank you for giving me and my family some hope, my moms going to an appointment to discuss treatments and an official diagnosis next week. I also wish you and your wife a long healthy life.

To be honest, there is no way to know, a doctor basically can on guess, and I dont' think that should ever do done!

I can tell you that as a Stage IV Lung Cancer patient, who started out with a 4 cm tumor, a brain tumor, lymph node involvement and Pulmonary Embolism (very grim prognosis at the time (2015). -- I am currently Stable, off ALL treatment (for over 3 years now) and doing well.

I'll be "Celebrating" my 5th Cancerversary next month and am Living Life. And I am one of many long term survivor with Stage IV. --- More and More we are treating even Late Stage Lung Cancer as a Chronic Illness! I have NEVER asked for my long term prognosis and already know that the stats online are very outdated.

I also know that we have seen a huge advance in treatment options, just since my diagnosis and we have MORE options than ever before and there are new trials ongoing!

I HOPE your Mom will do great !


Thank you for taking the time to reply, I wish you the best luck on your journey!


At the time of my diagnosis with stage 4 lung cancer in October of 2010 my primary tumor was 13cm x 11cm x 9cm. What’s important is how your moms tumor responds to treatment.

When they did a biopsy they sent some of it in for testing. Depending on where in the cells DNA there was a breakdown that caused the cancer to grow, there’s a chance they can treat her cancer with a pill. Some people don’t have to have chemotherapy or radiation. So until you have all the information there’s no way to know.

The information about life expect is based on information that doesn’t include all the results of the immunotherapies. They have only been around about 3 years.

In order to get a complete diagnosis your mom will have (or has had) a bone scan, an abdominal CT, a PET scan and an MRI of the brain.

The oncology social worker at her hospital will know if there’s any special services you family qualifies for. This link will help you learn if there is a Cancer Support Community or Gilda’s Club near you. They have programs for family members the ages of you and your sister.

ssummeryang in reply to Denzie

Thank you for taking the time to reply. I appreciate the advice and I wish you the best of luck!

Life expectancy is a tough question - they are too many things that can change it. Even the doctors can't say because we are all different and respond differently. What I can tell you is that many of us outlast what our doctors say. I had liver cancer in 2002 and was given 6 months max, and am still here. Now with lung cancer I've gone past what the docs said.

There are many different types of lung cancer, and that figures into the life expectancy and treatment. Treatments are changing so quickly for longer life that it is hard to say which treatment your mom will need. I had one mega dose of radiation (no chemo because of liver) and am now stable for 2 years. Stable means the cancer is there, but it isn't growing - some of us have that for many years. There is no way to predict what will happen - even the doctors don't know because we may respond great to treatment, or not respond great.

Your mom is smart to get everything in order. In truth, she really should have had a will and plans for you and your sister from the day you were born. Unfortunately, lots of people don't do that until a health crisis.

If there is a Hospice close to you, please call them and see if they have a support group! Your sister may be too young, but you can fight to include yourself. One of the best things I ever did was to join a support group so that there were others with cancer and we could share our experiences and feelings. I am on my 5th cancer, and one of the worst days was when the local support group decided to shut down. But that's okay, I found out how to find another!!

Please show this post to your mom - there is so much hope out there!!

If you want to chat privately, that is okay with me. my email is When we get to know each other better, perhaps we can text or talk on the phone.

ssummeryang in reply to anrean

Thank you for the advice, I’ll be sure to show this to my mom. We’ll be seeing the doctor soon to know her official diagnosis. Best of luck to you!


Please don't panic ,your Mum will be in shock and quite rightly need to get her affairs in order because she cares about you all .I sent my family into a complete spin doing exactly the same as your Mum is .However ,that was five years ago I was 55yrs old , currently I am having immunotherapy for lung cancer and metastices (that's just lung cancer that has spread) when this treatment no longer works there is other treatment they can give me .The treatment is given as a small drip fed into my veins every 6 weeks and it has shrunk my tumours. A few minor side effects that are manageable.

Yes I see this as a chronic illness and I do tire easily ,but I am still very much alive and enjoying my family and all its ups and downs .Do use the local McMillan centres or their help lines the people on the end of the phone are lovely and very helpful they are there for all of you.I felt much more able to cope with all aspects of treatments once I had sorted out the more dramatic and alarming side of aspects of a cancer diagnosis. Just allow your Mum to have these awkward discussions and tell her if it makes you feel sad ,she will understand. Cancer hits everyone in the family in different ways .I intend to be here for another 10yrs .Take care hopefully the oncologist will come up with a plan of treatment soon .It always feels more hopeful when treatment starts. Diane

I have a neighbor (50 years young) that was diagnosed with late stage (I believe stage 4) lung cancer which had spread to her brain. They did DNA testing and found she had an abnormal ALK1 gene. (Gene weakness in people that have never smoked or been exposed to smoke.). Note, there are a few other genes tied to non smokers but I don’t recall the names.

That was a good finding because there is very specific immunotherapy for it. She takes oral medication (no chemotherapy) which is more targeted to the cancer cells. The plan is that once the tumors on her lung shrink they will do radiation on the tumors in her brain. Around four months into treatment tumors in her lung were shrinking!

One final note. The first doctor she went to wanted her to start chemo right away without proper diagnostic testing. She got scared and found another better doc who was very thorough in testing before treatment. The final word from the second doc was that the chemo treatment that the first doc was going to put her would have been wrong (not very effective) on her type of cancer.

The take away from this is to make sure your mom gets properly diagnosed before starting treatment.

Even if it is late stage you want to wait for testing to make sure she is getting the most effective treatment for her cancer type.

She should also make sure she is eating a wholesome, nutrient dense diet (without any added sugars). I am a believer that diet does play a part but the doctors likely will not acknowledge it.

There is hope! There are many stories of people making it into remission and staying there for years.

First of all, I am so sorry you mom and all of you are dealing with this. You must be a pretty smart kid.

Right now, your mom doesn't have enough information to do the reasearch. Her tumor may be contained and has not spread anywhere so they may do surgery and who it out of there.

The staging is very important because that tells you whether or not the cancer has spread. Until you know all that info, please don't google it. What you read is data for all lung cancers wrapped up together and it is not that good, HOWEVER, treatments have changed and google hasn't really been able to keep up. If your mom's cancer has spread, they will test the tumor for mutations which help to determine her treatment. These immunotherapies and targeted therapies have made lung cancer treatments so much better, but all of this is based on the additional information people get when they learn more about their tumors.

I was diagnosed with stage 3a in 2012. I went through all the treatments and am still here. I didn't fit what google said would happen and there are many, many others like me as well as stage 4 patients.

It is a lot for you to know and tough for you to go through. I would encourage you and your sibling to talk openly with your mom about your feelings and fears but don't let it take over your life. I'm sure your mom wants you to enjoy your fun stuff. Open communication helps. I would suggest counseling for you all to help you deal with all of this. It helped my family and kids.

Your mom planning her funeral is natural. Many of us do the same thing. That's what you go to when you hear the word cancer. It's ok and it is a way to cope with the unknown. There is no road map to guide you all along this journey but I can tell you that it is full of many ups and downs. Through it all, keep talking openly. You sound like a very observant and smart kid. I wish this wasn't happening but there are many good stories out there but unfortunately you often just see the sad ones.

There are also lots of facebook support groups for patients so please let your mom know. These were so important to me when I was going through it. Just send me a note or give your mom my email if she would like the names of the groups (

Last words of wisdom....don't try to look a long way down the road. Live in today and do things that make you happy.

A thought. Perhaps if you researched what she could be eating (or avoiding) to help support her body before during and after treatment. That would be something actionable and supportive.

And as others have stated, to find a group for emotional support and a means of learning more about options.

Hi there! I had a 5.5 cm tumor with spread to a lymph node last June. I had surgery to remove my lower left lobe and 3 months of chemo and my doctor gives me a 60 percent chance to be cured. I feel great today! Have her go to a big cancer center and have the tumor removed immediately and have them do a biomarker test on the tumor. At age 49 she may have EFGR or ALK mutation in her tumor where very effective targeted therapy is available. I have spoken to many stage 4 10 year survivors. At 2.5 cm your mom could be stage 1 or 2. Start her fight immediately! Best of luck and stop reading the internet. Stats there are old and no longer correct with recent advances made in the past 5 years for lung cancer.

My wife was diagnosed w lung cancer, in January 2018, her tumor size was 3.6 cm. She is fine and living a normal life today. Each case varies, but keep your hope high and be strong!

When I got my first cancer diagnosis at the age of 56, my initial reaction was to "get all my affairs in order". I was told my reaction was perfectly normal. I did a living will, made arrangements for after I was gone, etc etc etc. That was 6 years ago. I am still here, still NED (no evidence of disease). No plans to go anywhere any time soon. The others are right, the information on line, is very outdated.

A cancer diagnosis is not the death sentence it once was. They are always finding new treatments, discovering new medicines. Six years ago, it was surgery, and then maybe radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy . They still consider surgery the "gold standard" in cancer treatment, but there are now other options, other treatments.

There is a nice article by NHS which touches cancer life expectancy . Pls go to internet and search in google for ,'nhs cancer outlook' you will find the answer which says life expectancy is normally 3 years but it might extend to 10 years and the person dies without knowing or feeling that he had cancer. But this extends to new if u have treatment

Moreover, now it is believed that nodules might shrink or disappear after a while and this why they encourage second scan after 6 m.

Another point send the images to online USA firm which employs highly qualified radiologists to read and give second opinion . The charge is $200-$300 . You have the right to ask ur hospital to give u copy of the images and also every hospital in U.K. Has medical record office which is obliged to give y complete medical record .

or ask ur GP to send ur mum for second opinion

Don't forget to print list of questions to ask ur clinical and you find then in the interest

I am trying to help out of my experience

Wish ur mum good luck

This must be a shock and you have some excellent responses on here. the size is less important than the stage - and that may not be possible to tell just from imaging. I was 52 and a large mass was detected in my lung in Oct 2010 and I had surgery to remove it and half my left lung in Dec 2010 and was told it was lung cancer in January 2011. It was 7cm x 2.9cm x 2cm - the size of an egg. Since that time all the different types of treatment have changed and I am now heavily involved in the world of lung cancer research. In fact I have tonight returned from a conference in Brussels with patients of many cancers - most of whom have defied what they were told. I'd warn you away from the internet - apart from trusted sites such as Roy Castle lung cancer foundation in the UK - the only dedicated lung cancer charity which has its literature regularly updated by clinicians and reviewed by patients. Most of the information is wildly out of date and as newer treatments are developed, these tend to be published in scientific journals not often picked up by google. Surgery in the Uk for lung is now mostly done by keyhole (mine wasn't) but if it is operable, which its size suggests, that would usually be the first treatment and as she's young, she should recover. I was back at work 3 months and swimming after my surgery. Having said that, I did write my will and power of attorney as I had never got around to doing that and t was useful to think that through. 9 years later I haven't had to use either! Support your mum as best you can - do not write her off - in the last few years I've attended conferences where research results have led to changes in standard of care for treatments such as immunotherapy. Not all the treatments are available to all - due to the tumour biology - not health cuts or anything like that - lung cancer is now a very complex condition (there are many different type with many different mutations and giving the exact best treatment is really important as the wrong type of treatment can be harmful). so there are usually a number of diagnostic tests that are done before deciding on the treatment plan. hope this helps. thinking of you.... x


Jeanette brought up something very important that I’d forgotten when I wrote my answer. What your mom is doing, by planning a funeral and making end of life plans is something every parent should do to protect their children.

No one is promised a tomorrow. What if she got hit by a lorry tomorrow. Who will take care of you (if dad is not in the picture)? Does she want a casket or to be cremated? She’s protecting you from making those difficult decisions. Also, by writing out what she wants there can be no arguments or hurt feelings as other family members try to have their way.

What your mom has done is an act of love.


Hello ssummeryang,

So glad you found this community. Many wonderful suggestions and encouragement has been provided. You have found a wam home with us. Since your mother was just diagnosed, she need to have the proper workup for staging that will determine her treatment options. She needs to then make the decision best for her and your family. Just by size of the tumor, she may be early stage and qualify for surgery or specialized radiation therapy. The physicians will evaluate location and other areas involved to help decide her stage and treatment options.

Please check out our website and all our resources, especially our handbook with the link

Call us at 1-800-298-2436, email We will be glad to mail you a copy along with any other of our materials you may want to take with you on your physician appointments. The ask your doctor sections are very valuable. Look at page 7-"26 questions to ask your physician" then throughout the handbook are specific questions to ask your physicians on each step you are making. We are here for you, your mother and family.



I was diagnosed with stage 4 adenocarcinoma non small cell in 2013. My cancer was inside the lung, outside, on chest wall and lymph node. I was told 8+ months to live. I had a strong faith that only God determined how long I would live. I believed I would live, did my treatments, stayed positive, and found lots of things to laugh about. I have been cancer free since 2016. My cancer was first seen as a similar size as your mother’s. Find a doctor who can work with your mom and find best treatment for her. Hold onto hope and let your mom know there are more and more survivors of lung cancer due to new treatments.

As for the funeral, my husband and I made those choices when we were in our early fifties. We had no illnesses. We just wanted to make things easy on the family when the time came. I am now 72 and plan to live many more years, but glad those decisions were made.

MY diagnosis goes back to 2017. It's always been the veteran's administration hospital in Minneapolis,MN. I was dealing with headaches most of 2017. From an mir to the brain they decided it was cancer to the lungs . Since I was a Vietnam veteran the conclusion was the cause was exposure to agent orange. So they called it non small lung cancer and the first thing they did was 5 days of radiation to the Briain to kill the brain cancer . Also they did a couple of biopsies to .the spine and lungs. From these they decided to do chemo every 3 to 4 weeks. and pet scans every 4 months . The first chemo drugs were kind of rugged. and they originally gave me 9 months to live. So it's now into the 3rd year of survival. The chemo drugs have been changed quite a few times when the oncologist decided my treatment wasn't working well. I'm due for another pet scan tomorrow. About all you can do is establish a will and an advanced directive. I don't know how long I have left but I have bought an expensive lake cabin and try to get up there often. So good luck to your family and I wish you healing and long life.

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