Lung Cancer – Chapter 14 Prognosis


When a person’s diagnosed with lung cancer, they commonly want to
know how long are they going to live. And they’ll often ask
their doctor that question. And some doctors are somewhat
reluctant to answer that question, but others will get an answer. It is important to remember that when you think about any
answer that’s given that doctors don’t have a crystal ball
and they’re only giving an educated guess about how long they think
that individual patient might live. Sometimes they do have information
about the average survival for a group of patients like
the one who’s asked the question. And a term that you often hear
used is the ‘median survival’. Now, the median survival
is the time that half or 50% of the patients will live for. So, for example, this is a graph of a group of patients who’ve all had the
same type of lung cancer at the same stage and been treated with
high-dose radiation therapy. And you can see that 50% of the
patients are living for two years. But it does mean that half of the patients are going to live for
a shorter period of time, but half of the patients are actually going to
live for a longer period of time. For example, if you look
at the far end of the graph, there are a number of patients, not many, but a small number,
who are living for ten years. So, you know, you
get told you’re dying. To begin with, I’ve been pretty lucky
really. They told me I had six to eight months two years ago, nearly,
so I’ve done pretty well. But I think I tricked my body
there because I was so run down that I started to eat properly
and stuff like that and stopped smoking and tricked my body
into thinking, oh, she’s healthy! And then, it’s sort of
caught up with itself now. Whereas, you know, things
aren’t going too well for me now. Originally they gave me four months
to live and here it is 14 months, so I feel I’ve been blessed
with that time. It was a time of such high anxiety,
especially with lung cancer because by the time I
informed myself about the survival rates, which was
quite early on in the piece, one did feel the odds were stacked against us a bit. So, David never lost a positive
outlook, I found it more difficult. And it was almost more difficult
watching him, especially when he was in so much pain with
the radiotherapy. I think I would have swapped places. It was very hard to watch.