Average To Progression after Chemo/Rad. ?

Thu, 11/15/2018 - 16:57

What is the average time to progression after chemo/radiation for Stage 3 NSCLC if the tumor shrank but was still not a candidate for surgical removal ?

I believe our oncologist said  6 months - 1 year.

My husband has gone 3 years so far with no progression, to which we are thrilled, but for my own knowledge, I would like to know how unusual this is.

JanineT Forum …
Posts: 462
Forum Moderator and former caregiver

Hi Varvara,

Welcome to Grace.  Most often if a cancer is going to come back it will do so within a year or 2 and for the outliers 5 years is pretty lengthy.  The fact of the matter is oncologists are notoriously bad at guessing how long a patient will do well on or off treatment. Is it possible that your husband's cancer is gone and he is cured?  As an example, my husband also was not a candidate for surgery and had chemo/rads in 2009.  He had residual...something, scarring or inflammation that showed up on PET and CT scans up to 2 years later.  He still has scarring that shows up where his tumor was and if you didn't know better you'd say it was cancer but it hasn't grown and his onc believes my husband is cured. 

It's probably just as likely, at this point that your husband's cancer is being held at bay from the chemo/rads but as time goes by (the standard is 5 years post treatment) it becomes more likely that he is cured.  If cancer does return it could be treated as if it's a new cancer.  

Here's to hoping your husband and mine are cured!

All best,



I joined GRACE as a caregiver for my husband who had a Pancoast tumor, NSCLC stage III in 2009. He had curative chemo/rads then it was believed he had a recurrence in the spine/oligometastasis that was radiated. He's 10 years out from treatment.

Jim C Forum Mo…

Hi Varvara,


Here is a link to a discussion of post-treatment recurrence/progression by Dr. West: https://cancergrace.org/post/when-do-recurrences-lung-cancer-happen-after-surgery Although he mainly focuses on recurrence after surgery, near the end of his post he does refer to the same 12-24 month period as typical for recurrence after chemorads. He also indicates that the aggressiveness of the cancer is a factor, so three years with no progression is a very good sign. I'm inclined to think that your husband's situation is similar to that of Janine's husband - that what you're seeing on the scans after treatment is not cancer but scar tissue.


Jim C Forum Moderator