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Mally

5 year survival percentage

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I was googling survival rates and read that breast cancer has a 99% five year survival rate and lung cancer has a 15-30% ...that was a downer and my mum beat leukemia when 68 yrs old when told she had a 15% chance of staying in remission but 3 yrs passed with no recurrence so cured the oncologist said but at age 72 she got nsclc adenocarcinoma which was a primary tumor and had her lung removed and 3 yrs later mets to other lung and no treatment and lived another 4 yrs and passed away almost 80 yrs old .diabetes and heart disease and age and having gone through chemo for the leukemia they thought more treatment wasnt wise because of her general health But she stayed positive through it all which is what im trying to do and this forum has helped me see there is hope to survive past the 5 yr mark but was wondering what your thoughts are on these statistics ...Tom Susan ...Lauren .?..and others that are going through this journey

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If you want my honest opinion, I think statistics are crap.  When I was first diagnosed, my oncologist gave me the grim statistics and I cried for 2 days.  Then I talked to a physician assistant at the oncology clinic and she put it into perspective.  Those stats are based on people diagnosed 5 years ago and all lung cancer patients are lumped in.  Those statistics don't accurately reflect the new treatments on the market in the last 2-3 years, or those who were diagnosed and opted out of treatment, or YOUR age and overall health.  I literally trashed the printout the oncologist gave me and I've never looked back.  

My oncologist and I have a running joke about statistics.  I had a nodule on my thyroid; both he and the ENT said that less than 5% of nodules are cancerous and it is incredibly rare for cancer to metastasize to the thyroid.  Fast forward to my thyroidectomy where they found two nodules and both were cancerous; one was thyroid cancer and the other was metastatic lung cancer.  So stats?  Nope.  

Stop googling the stats and enjoy today.  Enjoy tomorrow. Make plans.  In the words of Tom, if he can live, so can you.  

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Mally,

Statistics are an imprecise numerical method to characterize, define and predict effects and outcomes.  When used in what is called a "design of experiments" (google it if you want to get into the weeds), a statistical projection can be very accurate.  When applied to human beings, however, the level of precision and prediction is less certain.  Why? The short answer: human beings are complicated, the data collected about cancer patients on diagnosis is incomplete, causes of death for every cancer patient are not determined, in short there is a lot of noise in the variables under statistical examination.

But, something needs to be established to measure the effectiveness of treatment A versus treatment B, or treatment A versus no treatment.  So for scientists and researchers trying to obtain a measure of effectiveness, statistics are the only tool in town.  The danger comes when one tries to apply statistics to forecast the survival of one person in an entire population of cancer patients.  Then the projections get flaky.  Why?  I'll just give you one example to keep from diving deep into statistical theory that would be of limited interest.

When diagnosed in the US, the National Cancer Institute receives a report that contains the following elements: date of diagnosis, stage and type of cancer, age at diagnosis, sex, and race.  These elements of information become the database that is used to generate survival statistics.  There is no information on complicating health problems, like heart disease.  And, more importantly, when one of the population dies, the death is reported (sometimes) but the cause of death is not precisely determined.  That means a cancer patient could pass from a heart attack and the statistical data base would reflect the death with a presumption that cancer was the cause.  So the data is inaccurate and the statistical projection is inaccurate.  

As an engineer, I have a different idea of accuracy than say a stock broker.  I am looking for specificity while the stock broker is looking for a trend.  Trends are valid indicators provided they are recognized as inaccurate generalized explanations of what is happening.  That is indeed what survival projections are - inaccurate generalized explanations of what is happening.  So, when you read XX-percent 5-year survival rate, it is an inaccurate generalized explanation of what is happening to hundreds of thousands of people and it may not, in fact, it may be a gross error, when applied to you.  Proof?  I beat the 5-year rate 8 years ago.

Stay the course.

Tom

 

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Thanks for your replies and as usual you make me put cancer aside and enjoy my day and plan ahead ...i dont know where my head would be if i didnt find you guys and this forum

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Mally,

We are so glad to have you in LCSC! I am happy that you are part of this community.

When my uncle was first diagnosed in September 2011, it was both gut-wrenching and heartbreaking. My family is incredibly close and we were so afraid of losing him. We looked up as much information as we could find, including statistics and survival rates. At the time, we found a statistic that said the five-year survival rate for lung cancer was only 16%. It may sound strange, but that was better than we expected!

Even though 16% is a low number, it's still higher than 0%. For me and my family, as long as there wasn't 100% chance that my uncle was going to die from lung cancer, we could find hope and fiercely hold on to it. My uncle has an incredibly positive attitude, and he's always been the type of person to see the glass as half full rather than half empty. We adopted that mantra, choosing to see the positive rather than the negative. At some point as human beings, we all do have to face our own mortality, but we chose to follow my uncle's example and live as much in the present as possible. Every milestone and holiday that we've had with him over the past five and a half years has given us another reason to celebrate. His lung cancer has forced us to acknowledge and put greater value on what is most important to us: love, happiness, and health - even when it isn't perfect.

Different sites will give you different statistics, or as Tom calls them "inaccurate generalized explanations." The site with the 16% statistic that we read five years ago includes a disclaimer that says "because survival statistics are based on large groups of people, they cannot be used to predict exactly what will happen to an individual patient. No two patients are entirely alike, and treatment and responses to treatment can vary greatly."

We have to face the reality that lung cancer is part of our lives but we cannot let it consume our lives. I am happy that you're taking Susan's advice and enjoying each day as it comes. Those of us whose lives have been touched by cancer may have a better understanding of the fact that each day is a gift and should be treated as such! 

We are here for you. Post as much and as often as you'd like!

Lauren
--
Digital Community Manager
LUNGevity Foundation

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100% of the "me" in this whole world survived 5 years with a projected expectancy of 12%.

A few years ago, I took a college statistics class....sooooo of many ways to report the same information to put a different spin on the info. Seriously.

Skip the numbers, they cause indigestion.

P.S. Currently 14 years out from initial diagnosis, 3 years from recurrence.

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Great to hear you are doing well snowflake and that will give a lot of us hope that we have a future too

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