Lung Cancer is the World's Most Lethal Disease
and the #1 Cancer Killer in the United States 6
- Each year in the US, approximately 228,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer and nearly 160,000 die of the disease.1
- 1 in 14 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer.1
- Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, but…Between 20,000 and 30,000 people who have never smoked are diagnosed with lung cancer in the U.S. each year.5
- Lung cancer takes more lives than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined; it accounts for 27% of all cancer deaths.1
- African American males have the highest incidence of lung cancer and the highest death rate.
- Men’s incidence rates began declining more than 20 years ago, while women’s rates just recently began to decline slightly, after rising for many years.
- Over 50% of people with lung cancer are diagnosed at late stage disease; only 15% are diagnosed early when treatment will be most effective.
Lung Cancer is the Leading Cause of Cancer Death in Women and Men
- Lung cancer surpassed breast cancer as the #1 cancer killer of women in 1987. Twice as many women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer.
- Lung cancer will kill more women this year than breast, ovarian, cervical, uterine and vaginal cancers combined.
- Lung cancer will kill more men this year than colorectal, prostate, pancreatic, and melanoma cancers combined.
- Women who have never smoked appear to be at greater risk for developing lung cancer than men who have never smoked.
- Women tend to develop lung cancer at younger ages than men.
Lung Cancer Survival Rate Remains Bleak
- The estimated 5-year survival rate is 16%, which has remained largely unchanged since the 1970s.
- Only 16% of lung cancer is being diagnosed at its earliest and most curable stage.
- The rate of lung cancer among women has risen 60% since 1990.
- 80% of all nonsmokers diagnosed with lung cancer are women.
Lung Cancer in Never-smokers Fact Sheet
Lung cancer in never-smokers is the sixth leading cause of cancer death.
- 10-20% of people with lung cancer are never-smokers.
- An estimated 40,000 never-smokers will be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2012 – that’s 5 never-smokers every hour.
- An estimated 28,000 never-smokers will lose their battles with lung cancer in 2012 – that’s 77 never-smokers every day.
You don’t need to smoke to get lung cancer.
What causes lung cancer in never-smokers?
- Radon gas accounts for 10% (20,000 cases) of lung cancers.
- Secondhand smoke from a family member increases risk for lung cancer by 20-30%.
- Environmental factors including cooking fumes, asbestos, diesel fumes, air pollution, arsenic, chromium, nickel and other substances can increase risk.
- Family history of lung cancer and genetic predisposition in some ethnic populations (such as East Asian women) can indicate increased risk.
- Previous lung disease, such as pneumonia and tuberculosis, can increase risk of lung cancer.
- After age 45, risk for lung cancer increases every year.
- Ionizing radiation from medical procedures (much higher than low-dose CT scans used for lung cancer screening) can increase risk for lung cancer.
Lung cancer is different in never-smokers.
- Never-smokers are more likely to have certain types of lung cancers (adenocarcinoma).
- These tumors are also more likely caused by mutations to certain genes, such as EGFR and ALK.
- There are differences between male and female never- smokers with lung cancer in incidence and survival.
Did you know?
Over the last 30 years, substantial investment has resulted in significant increases in survival of many diseases. For example:
- US Government research funding: $750 million/year 2 3
- Results: significant increase in 5-year survival rates: 4
- Early 1970s – 75%
- Today – 90%
- US Government research funding: $3 billion/year 2
- AIDS was once a near-immediate death sentence
- Today – with anti-retroviral drug therapy, the 3-year survival rate is 90%.
There is Hope Over the last five years, there has been an explosion in the scientific understanding of the biology of lung cancer. This information is beginning to be translated into new treatments for the disease, but we can only continue to make progress by funding more research, awareness, education and access programs.
- US Government research funding: Only $267 million/year 2 3
- Results: very little change in 5-year survival rates: 4
- Early 1970s – 12%
- Today – 16%
- American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2013. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2013.
- American Cancer Society, Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2009-2010. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2010
- Kohler, B, et al. Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2007, Featuring Tumors of the Brain & Other Nervous System. JNCI, 2011. doi:10.1093/jnci/djr077
- Fast Stats: An interactive tool for access to SEER cancer statistics. Surveillance Research Program, National Cancer Institute. (Accessed on 4-22-2011)
- Thun, MJ, et al. Lung Cancer Occurrence in Never-Smokers: An Analysis of 13 Cohorts and 22 Cancer Registry Studies. PLOS Medicine, 2008. 5(9): e185. Doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050185
- SEER Stat Fact Sheets. Surveillance Research Program, National Cancer Institute.