The life expectancy of someone with small cell lung cancer depends heavily on several factors, including individual factors that vary widely from person to person. If doctors diagnose a patient early, treatment can begin while the tumors remain localized to one area of the lung. Unfortunately, doctors usually only find this type of cancer after it spreads, and many people pass away within a year of their diagnosis.
When a doctor catches small cell lung cancer early, and it limits itself to only one area of one lung, a patient may select surgery as an option. Treatment may also include chemotherapy and radiation for limited-stage small cell lung cancer. Still, most people who undergo treatment do not live for a long time following their diagnosis. Small cell lung cancer almost always creates a terminal diagnosis once it recurs, or spreads, to the brain.
Survival Rates for People With Small Cell Lung Cancer
According to the National Cancer Institute, the overall five-year survival rate for all people diagnosed with small cell lung cancer sits at 5% to 10%. This is a low life expectancy for those with small cell lung cancer. Doctors find it difficult to identify signs of this disease and get a diagnosis before it progresses.
In the rare occurrence that a doctor does spot a small cell lung cancer tumor while localized in one lung alone, the five-year survival rate only reaches about 15%.
If cancer spreads to other tissues and lymph nodes in the chest and upper torso before diagnosis, the five-year survival rate remains rare and life expectancy is low. If distant metastases occur before diagnosis, only 3% survive for five years after their diagnosis.
Some People Beat the Odds
Some people can live with advanced lung cancer for years. Your doctor can help you put a treatment plan in place to manage your symptoms and possibly stop the progression of the disease.
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Treatment and Management of Small Cell Lung Cancer
The treatment of small cell lung cancer varies based on the stage of the cancer when diagnosed. In most cases, surgery does not qualify as an option. Less than 5% of people with a small cell lung cancer diagnosis receive their diagnosis at an early stage when surgery could remove the majority of cancerous cells.
Even when surgery to remove a tumor in the lung qualifies as an option, chemotherapy and radiation therapy usually follow. These therapies can help shrink or kill the tumor, reduce symptoms, and increase the life expectancy of someone with small cell lung cancer even if they cannot guarantee a cure.
Palliative care often plays a role in the treatment of this type of asbestos-related cancer. This type of care can improve your quality of life by helping to manage pain and relieve symptoms. In some cases, doctors may even prescribe chemotherapy and radiation to ease pain without dealing with the cancer itself, such as if a tumor presses on a windpipe or another sensitive area.
You or Your Family May Be Able to Recover an Award Based on Your Diagnosis
If you received a diagnosis of small cell lung cancer and have a history of asbestos exposure, your doctor may link your disease to your occupational exposure to this dangerous material, as noted in the July 2017 edition of Molecular and Clinical Oncology. Proving exposure could give you a strong enough case to pursue compensation through an asbestos trust fund claim or lawsuit.
Alternatively, you or your family may be able to pursue an award or negotiate a settlement based on wrongful death losses if your loved one passes away from the disease.
Knowing how to navigate this complex mass tort and understanding how to build a compelling case may support your claim. To reduce your stress and give yourself more time to focus on your loved ones, you may want to consider working with an asbestos cancer attorney when pursuing a settlement or award.
Discuss Your Case With Pintas & Mullins Law Firm
If you or a loved one developed cancer as a result of your past employment, we may be able to help you understand the qualifications to take legal action and determine your eligibility for financial awards.
Our clients never pay anything out of pocket for our representation because we work on a contingency fee basis. We only collect payment if we secure awards on your behalf. Call us today at (800) 794-0444 to get started with a free review of your asbestos cancer case.