Lung Cancer - Small Cell: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 07/2019

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the number of people who are diagnosed with SCLC each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. Use the menu to see other pages.

Lung cancer makes up about 14% of all new cancer diagnoses. This year, an estimated 228,150 adults (116,440 men and 111,710 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with lung cancer. This includes people diagnosed with SCLC and NSCLC. About 13% of people diagnosed with lung cancer have SCLC. Black men are 15% less likely than white men to develop SCLC, and black women are 30% less likely than white women to develop the disease.

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer death for men and women. It is estimated that 142,670 (76,650 men and 66,020 women) deaths from this disease will occur this year.

Due to a decrease in smoking, death rates have declined by 48% since 1990 in men and 23% in women since 2002. From 2012 to 2016, the death rates for men with the disease dropped by 4% each year. The death rates for women declined 3% per year.

The 5-year survival rate tells you what percent of people live at least 5 years after the cancer is found. Percent means how many out of 100. The general 5-year survival rate for people with SCLC is 6%.

It is important to note that survival rates depend on several factors, including the stage of disease. If SCLC is only 1 tumor in the lungs, the 5-year relative survival rate is 31%. If the cancer has spread to nearby tissue or the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year survival ranges from 8% to 19%. If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, the 5-year survival rate is 2%.

However, some people with advanced lung cancer can live many years after diagnosis. Sometimes, patients who are told that their lung cancer is curable do not live as long as those who are told that their lung cancer cannot be cured. The important thing to remember is that lung cancer is treatable at any stage, and these treatments have been proven to help people with lung cancer live longer with better quality of life.

It is also important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with SCLC are an estimate. The estimate comes from annual data based on the number of people with this cancer in the United States. Also, experts measure the survival statistics every 5 years. So the estimate may not show the results of better diagnosis or treatment available for less than 5 years. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2019, and the ACS website (January 2019).

The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers drawings of body parts often affected by SCLC. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.