How Long Stage 4 Metastatic Cancer Life Expectancy Is? – Guide for Survive

Tech4Cancer » How Long Stage 4 Metastatic Cancer Life Expectancy Is? – Guide for Survive


Tech4Cancer – Cancer has different classification or stages based on its severity. It has the mildest or earliest stage, which is stage 0 or 1 depending on the classification methods. Then, the late or most severe stage is stage 4.

The late stage is also known as metastatic cancer. It is the most dangerous stage of all. We often hear similar questions about this stage. It is the stage 4 metastatic cancer life expectancy. To find more about the life expectancy of a patient with stage 4 cancer, we have already collected some information. Let’s start!

Stage 4 Cancer Explanation

What are stage 4 metastatic cancers? First of all, before we go to the life expectancy part, you should know more about this stage. As we mentioned above, this is the last or the most severe stage. It means cancer at this stage has a high mortality rate. It can kill the patients most of the time when they receive no proper treatment.

Why does it have a high mortality rate? You can see it from its name. Cancer in this stage has metastasized. It means the cancer cells have spread and attacked another area or organ outside the initial area where it appears. For example, if you have lung cancer in this stage, the cancer cell has spread to other organs near the lungs, such as the heart and liver. 

Compared to the earliest stage, metastasized cancer is more challenging to treat. We can even call it impossible for certain cases. The cancer cell has grown significantly, so the focused treatment doesn’t work for it. Because of that, it is also known for its high mortality rate.

Is Metastatic Cancer Always Terminal?

This cancer stage has high mortality risk. However, in most cases, stage 4 or metastatic cancer is not always terminal. It is all depending on the spread area and case. On the other hand, it is also the stage where more advanced and aggressive treatment is necessary to kill the cancer cell. 

Terminal cancer refers to a cancer case that is impossible to cure. This case mostly will result in the death of the patient. Therefore, the treatment for terminal cancer is only to control the spread and ease the patient’s pain. The curing process is difficult to do. So, it is the period when doctors and patients’ families prepare for the worst.

Despite its obvious result, the medical world still sets the standard for the patient’s survival likelihood. And, to learn more about that matter, you can continue reading. We will start talking about our main topic here, the stage 4 cancer life expectancy.

Stage 4 Cancer Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of stage 4 cancer is different depending on the type of cancer. However, there is a 5 years rule, which is the average maximum survivability of stage 4 cancer patients. Within those 5 years, the cancer case could worsen and lead to death. On the other hand, with proper treatment, a patient also can survive more than those 5 years limit.

For example, a breast cancer patient in the last stage will receive a similar diagnosis by using that 5 years limit. However, according to the research, 28% of people can pass through that 5 years limit. Thus, the life expectancy of a breast cancer patient in the late stage is 28%. To help you understand this part, we have already categorized the cancer life expectancy based on the cancer type.

–        Breast Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, the life expectancy of a stage 4 breast cancer patient is 28% for a 5 years survival rate. As one of the common forms of cancer, this number is quite high compared to other types of cancer.

–        Lung Cancer

 As for stage 4 lung cancer, it has a 6% of survival rate for the 5 years limit. This data is also taken from the American Cancer Society. However, the 6% survival rate is the life expectancy for non-small cell lung cancer, which is one of two types of lung cancer. The other type is called small cell lung cancer. As for this second type, the life expectancy is much lower, which is only 3% of the 5-year survival rate.

–        Colorectal

Colorectal cancer is cancer that attacks the colon or rectal area. In its early stages, this cancer is treatable. So, the life expectancy of patients with this cancer in its early stage is quite high. When the cancer cell enters the metastatic stage or stage 4, the life expectancy rate decreases significantly. By using the 5-year limit, the American Cancer Society found that the patient with this cancer has only a 14-16% survival rate.

–        Prostate

Prostate cancer in its late stage has a higher life expectancy than the other cancer types we mentioned. The 5-year survival rate for a patient with prostate cancer is 30%. Therefore, the patient has a chance to survive and get cured as long as they get proper treatment.

Those are several examples of cancer types with their life expectancy and survival rate. However, to help you know more about the life expectancy of cancer in stage 4, below we have another shortlist of other cancer with their survival rate using the 5 years:

–       Leukemia – 63.7%

–       Non-Hodgkin lymphoma – 63.3% 

–       Thyroid – 54.9% 

–       Melanoma (skin) – 27.3%

–       Uterine (endometrial) – 17.3% 

–       Kidney, renal pelvic – 13.0% 

–       Lung and bronchus – 5.8% 

–       Bladder – 5.5%

–       Pancreatic – 2.9%

The Factors that Affect Cancer Life Expectancy

We need to remind you of one thing. Yes, we have the number of life expectancy. But, it doesn’t mean that it will work that way for everyone. Many factors affect the stage 4 metastatic cancer life expectancy. Here are some of them:

–       Cancer Types

We have already explained. It shows you that different cancer types have different life expectancies and survival rates. So, you can refer to the section above to find more about this part.

–       Cancer Grade

Cancer grade is different from cancer stage. The cancer stage refers to the cancer disease severity. However, cancer grade is a system to determine the condition of cancer cells and the affected tissue. Doctors mostly use the microscope to see the grade of a cancer cell. 

Currently, you can find four grades of cancer cells. They are:

·         Grade 1 – cancer cells that are classified as the grade 1 have healthy looks or are similar to the normal cell. The tissue surrounding the cell also looks like it doesn’t have any problem. Low-grade stage 4 cancer is much easier to treat and provides a prognosis.

·         Grade 2 – on this grade, the tissue, and cancer cells start to look abnormal. Cancer in this grade is considered an intermediate one, which requires more advanced treatment.

·         Grade 3 – the abnormality level of this grade, especially on the cancer cell and tissue where it grows is very high. The cancer cell doesn’t have any architectural structure. Therefore, the cancer cell in this grade is also considered a high-grade tumor.

·         Grade 4 – grade 4 cancer cells have very abnormal cell appearance. The cell in this grade has a higher speed to spread outside the initial organ where it grows. Therefore, the treatment is also difficult for this grade. We also call the cancer cell in this grade the high-grade cancer cell. 

From the explanation about the cancer grade above, we can conclude two things. First of all, the cancer cells in low grade are easy to treat. On the other hand, the high grade is the most difficult one. Second, the grade affects the life expectancy of a patient with stage 4 cancer. How?

As you can read above, the highest grade of cancer cells spread much faster than the lower grade. It means the time to reach metastatic status is much faster. Moreover, its speed also shortens the time needed by cancer cells to infect other tissues or organs. So, patients of stage 4 cancer with high cancer cell grade will have a lower survival rate or life expectancy than similar stage 4 cancer patients with a low-grade cancer cell.

–       Genetics

The other factors that affect cancer life expectancy are their genetics. Their DNA controls how their cell works. Therefore, people with a history of cancer in their family most likely have the genetic side that allows cancer cells to grow more. Therefore, it also can enter the metastatic stage much faster. In short, people with a history of cancer have a lower survival rate than others who don’t.

Stage 4 Cancer Treatments

Migrating breast cancer cell, 3d illustration.

Stage 4 cancer has the highest mortality rate. Therefore, many people who have stage 4 cancer or know their family or friend has one, have already given up. They only see the people with this cancer as those who only wait for the end of their life. 

The truth is the opposite. Thanks to medical science’s growth, nowadays, many data and tests show a patient with stage 4 cancer is treatable and even curable. As mentioned earlier, there are two purposes of the treatment. It is either to stop the growth and kill the cancer cell or to control the growth and wait for the end. 

Regardless of the purposes, the treatment for cancer in stage 4 is similar. Here, we have the examples of the standard treatment for stage 4 cancer:

·         Chemotherapy – is said to be the safest method to treat stage 4 cancer. However, if cancer has spread extensively, this treatment could risk affecting other organs, which can cause another health problem for the patient.

·         Radiation therapy – this treatment is also suitable for cancer that hasn’t spread too much. The doctor uses this treatment to reduce the size of the cancer cell and relieve the symptoms.

·         Immunotherapy – this method uses the natural immune system of the patient’s body to fight the cancer cell. It has a high success rate for low-grade cancer cells.

·         Surgery – remove the cancer cell or tumor and the problem is gone. Of course, it is only doable for cancer in the earlier stage of metastasis. 

·         Targeted therapy – patients who have entered the severe condition in stage 4 cancer most likely receive this treatment. This treatment only slows the tumor growth and eases patient pain. 


Other than medical treatment, support from family, friends, lovers, or close people is also necessary for a patient with stage 4 cancer. It helps them to relieve their stress, so they can focus on recovery. Or, if it is too severe, the support will give the patient the best time at the end of their life. Therefore, with proper care, we can also improve the stage 4 metastatic cancer life expectancy. Maybe, a miracle will come and you can recover completely from stage 4 cancer.

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