Asbestos-related lung cancer shares the same prognosis as non-asbestos-related lung cancer. Prognosis refers to the course of the disease, as well as the chance of disease recurrence and recovery. The prognosis for asbestos-related lung cancer depends on multiple factors. On average, disease recurrence after treatment occurs within a year. Overall survival ranges around 8 to 20 months.1

Types of Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer

There are two main types of lung cancer:

  • Small cell lung cancer: The less common and more aggressive of the two main types of lung cancer, making up close to 20% of cases.
  • Non-small cell lung cancer: The most common kind of lung cancer, making up about 80% of cases.

Small cell lung cancer is highly associated with smoking. Because it is an aggressive cancer that spreads rapidly and extensively, it is usually treated with systemic chemotherapy and radiation therapy, as opposed to localized treatment with surgery.

Non-small cell lung cancer grows and spreads more slowly than small cell lung cancer, making surgery an effective treatment option. Individuals with this kind of lung cancer can also benefit from chemotherapy and radiation.

Factors That Impact Prognosis

Asbestos-related lung cancer prognosis is impacted by several factors, including lung cancer type.

For small cell lung cancer, such factors include

  • Disease stage: a measure of tumor size and spread
  • Other health conditions
  • Age
  • Overall health
  • Smoking history

Non-small cell lung cancer prognosis is influenced by these same factors, in addition to

  • Tumor grade: microscopic features that characterize how quickly a tumor is likely to grow and spread
  • Molecular characterization: individual variation in tumor gene mutations

Survival decreases with more advanced disease for both types of asbestos-related lung cancer, which is why it is so important to screen for the disease and treat it early. Input from an oncology team composed of medical, surgical, and radiation oncologists can be invaluable in guiding one’s treatment and optimizing survival and quality of life.2

Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer Prognosis