Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, accounting for 1 in 4 cancer deaths. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. Lung Cancer Awareness Month (LCAM), recognized in November, provides an opportunity to educate consumers about lung cancer and the American Cancer Society's work to reduce the burden of the disease.
Visit cancer.org/fightlungcancer to get a comprehensive look at lung cancer and what ACS is doing to fight it.
Smoking is by far the leading cause of lung cancer, accounting for nearly 8 out of 10 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. However, as many as 20% of people who die from lung cancer in the U.S. every year have never smoked or used any other form of tobacco. This translates to about 30,000 Americans in 2018. In fact, if lung cancer in non-smokers had its own separate category, it would rank among the top 10 fatal cancers in the U.S. To learn more about lung cancer risks for non-smokers, read this article on cancer.org.
The best way to reduce your risk of lung cancer is to not start smoking or quit smoking. You should also avoid breathing in other people's smoke. If you or anyone you know would like help quitting smoking or want more information about reducing your risk of lung cancer, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.
Lung Cancer Statistics
- An estimated 234,030 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2018.
- The incidence rate has been declining since the mid-1980s in men, but only since the mid-2000s in women, because of gender differences in historical patterns of smoking uptake and cessation. From 2005 to 2014, lung cancer incidence rates decreased by 2.5% per year in men and 1.2% per year in women.
- The lung cancer death rate has declined by 45% since 1990 in men and by 19% since 2002 in women due to reductions in smoking, with the pace of decline quickening over the past decade; from 2011 to 2015, the rate decreased by 3.8% per year in men and by 2.3% per year in women.
- Symptoms do not usually occur until the cancer is advanced, and may include persistent cough, sputum streaked with blood, chest pain, voice change, worsening shortness of breath, and recurrent pneumonia or bronchitis.
- Cigarette smoking is by far the most important risk factor for lung cancer; 80% of lung cancer deaths in the U.S. are still caused by smoking. Risk increases with both quantity and duration of smoking. Cigar and pipe smoking also increase risk.
- Exposure to radon gas released from soil and building materials is thought to be the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. Other risk factors include occupational or environmental exposure to secondhand smoke, asbestos (particularly among smokers), certain metals (chromium, cadmium, arsenic), some organic chemicals, radiation, air pollution, and diesel exhaust. Some specific occupational exposures that increase risk include rubber manufacturing, paving, roofing, painting, and chimney sweeping. Risk is also probably increased among people with a history tuberculosis. Genetic susceptibility (e.g., family history)plays a role in the development of lung cancer, especially in those who develop the disease at a young age
- The 5-year relative survival rate for lung cancer is 18% (15% for men and 21% for women). Only 16% of lung cancers are diagnosed at a localized stage, for which the 5-year survival rate is 56%.