Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"What is the prognosis for patients with inoperable lung cancer? "

ZocdocAnswersWhat is the prognosis for patients with inoperable lung cancer?


My uncle has inoperable lung cancer. The whole family is upset. What's the progression of this disease like, and what should we expect?


This must be a very difficult time for your family. Having a loved one be diagnosed with cancer is always a very hard thing, particularly when you receive news that there are no surgical options. Your uncle's expected prognosis will depend on many other factors--his overall health right now (for example, before the cancer diagnosis was he able to be independent in getting himself dressed, using the bathroom, preparing food?); any other health problems he may have; and where his cancer is in the lungs and where it has spread. Although it is very hard to hear that surgery is not an option, that doesn't mean that treatment options won't be available for your uncle and that there aren't many, many things that can be done to try and keep him comfortable. The best thing for him to do in this situation is to seek out care from an oncologist and go over what this information means. Depending upon his wishes, it may be helpful to have a close family member or friend accompany him to these appointments. His oncologist will be able to put his health in perspective and give your uncle a sense of prognosis. It is also important to remember, however, that statistics about any disease apply to large groups and each patient is completely unique. Hopefully your uncle will be able to remain comfortable and pain-free for however much time he may have. Best of luck.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.