Circulating tumour cells (CTCs) are cancer cells of epithelial origin that are present in peripheral blood samples. ScreenCell detection of CTCs and the association with long term survival in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients was evaluated in the present study. A total of 33 patients undergoing surgical resection for NSCLC were recruited. Patients were followed up for 5-years post-operatively. Pre-operative patient bloods samples were processed using ScreenCell. CTCs were detected in 26 (79%) patients. In patients who were positive for CTCs, a total of 9 (35%) patients succumbed to the disease, whereas in patients negative for CTCs, a total of 4 (57%) patients succumbed to the disease (P=0.29). No association was identified between positive CTCs and poorer survival (Chi-squared 1.47, P=0.23; hazard ratio, 0.42; 95% confidence interval: 0.1-1.7). The presence of CTCs detected with ScreenCell does not influence prognosis in patients with NSCLC that was operated on. The high rate of CTC detection is encouraging in supporting this technology to aid early lung cancer diagnosis.