Neuroendocrine Tumor of the Lung: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 03/2023

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the estimated number of people who will be diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor (NET) of the lung each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors, and no 2 people with a tumor are the same. Use the menu to see other pages.

Every person is different, with different factors influencing their risk of being diagnosed with this tumor and the chance of recovery after a diagnosis. It is important to talk with your doctor about any questions you have around the general statistics provided below and what they may mean for you individually. The original sources for these statistics are provided at the bottom of this page.

How many people are diagnosed with a lung NET?

Each year, an estimated 2,000 to 4,500 adults in the United States are diagnosed with a lung NET. These tumors make up 1% to 2% of all lung cancers.

As explained in the Introduction, NETs more commonly develop in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract than in the lungs. About 20% to 30% of all neuroendocrine cancers develop in the lungs. Lung NETs are often diagnosed at a slightly younger age compared to other lung cancer types. Overall, the number of people diagnosed with a NET has been increasing for years, and the reason for this is unknown. This increase is thought to be related to improvements in the way NETs are diagnosed, including better imaging tests and endoscopy, and increased awareness of these tumors.

What is the survival rate for a lung NET?

There are different types of statistics that can help doctors evaluate a person’s chance of recovery from a lung NET. These are called survival statistics. A specific type of survival statistic is called the relative survival rate. It is often used to predict how having a tumor may affect life expectancy. Relative survival rate looks at how likely people with a lung NET are to survive for a certain amount of time after their initial diagnosis or start of treatment compared to the expected survival of similar people without this tumor.

Example: Here is an example to help explain what a relative survival rate means. Please note this is only an example and not specific to this type of cancer. Let’s assume that the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific type of cancer is 90%. “Percent” means how many out of 100. Imagine there are 1,000 people without cancer, and based on their age and other characteristics, you expect 900 of the 1,000 to be alive in 5 years. Also imagine there are another 1,000 people similar in age and other characteristics as the first 1,000, but they all have the specific type of cancer that has a 5-year survival rate of 90%. This means it is expected that 810 of the people with the specific cancer (90% of 900) will be alive in 5 years.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with a lung NET are only an estimate. They cannot tell an individual person if the tumor will or will not shorten their life. Instead, these statistics describe trends in groups of people previously diagnosed with the same disease, including specific stages of the disease.

The 5-year relative survival rate across all individuals with a lung NET is 89%.

The survival rates for a lung NET vary based on several factors. These include the stage and grade of the tumor, a person’s age and general health, and how well the treatment plan works.

When a lung NET is only in the area where it began, called localized or early stage, the 5-year relative survival rate is 98%. The 5-year relative survival rate if the tumor has spread to nearby areas, called regional, is 86%. When the disease has spread to other parts of the body, called distant or stage IV, the 5-year relative survival rate is 55%.

These numbers include both typical and atypical lung NETs, and survival rates would be expected to be somewhat higher for typical NETs and somewhat lower for atypical NETs. Learn more about typical and atypical lung NETs and how these tumors are graded in Stages and Grades.

Experts measure relative survival rate statistics for a lung NET every 5 years. This means the estimate may not reflect the results of advancements in how a lung NET is diagnosed or treated from the last 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 website. Additional resources are:

Dasari A, et al.: Trends in the Incidence, Prevalence, and Survival Outcomes in Patients With Neuroendocrine Tumors in the United States. JAMA Oncol. 2017;3(10):1335–1342. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2017.0589.

Shah S, et al.: Incidence and Survival Outcomes in Patients with Lung Neuroendocrine Neoplasms in the United States. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Apr 7;13(8):1753. doi: 10.3390/cancers13081753.

(All sources accessed March 2023.)

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