Lung Cancer facts and statistics Illustration

List of 57+ Facts and Statistics About Lung Cancer (2024)

by | Updated: Feb 5, 2024

Lung cancer remains one of the most significant health challenges of our time, affecting millions of people across the globe.

It is a complex disease with a multitude of factors contributing to its development, progression, and impact on individual lives.

This article aims to shed light on the key facts and statistics surrounding lung cancer. We explore its prevalence, survival rates, associated risk factors, and the evolving landscape of diagnosis and treatment.

Armed with this knowledge, we can all contribute to raising awareness, supporting affected individuals, and aiding efforts to reduce the disease’s impact.

Facts and Statistics About Lung Cancer

  1. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide, according to the Lung Cancer Research Foundation​.
  2. An estimated 238,340 adults in the United States are diagnosed with lung cancer each year.
  3. Approximately 127,070 deaths from lung cancer are expected to occur in the United States in 2023.
  4. The incidence of lung cancer in the United States has been declining steadily since 2006, with a 2.6% per year decrease in men and a 1.1% per year decrease in women.
  5. The 5-year relative survival rate for all types of lung cancer in the United States is 23%.
  6. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, accounting for approximately 80% of lung cancer deaths.
  7. Worldwide, lung cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer, with NSCLC accounting for 81% of all lung cancer diagnoses.
  8. The number of people who have been diagnosed with lung cancer at some point in their lives in the U.S. is approximately 654,000.
  9. In 2022, there were more than 650,000 people alive in the United States who have a history of lung cancer.
  10. One in 16 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime.
  11. Lung cancer kills almost three times as many men as prostate cancer and almost three times as many women as breast cancer.
  12. People who have never smoked account for 20% of lung cancer deaths.
  13. Other risk factors for lung cancer include exposure to radon gas, secondhand smoke, asbestos, certain metals, certain organic materials, radiation, air pollution, diesel exhaust, as well as family history and genetic factors.
  14. There are two main types of lung cancer: Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) and Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC).
  15. Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer in the United States, accounting for 81% of all lung cancer diagnoses.
  16. Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is less common, accounting for about 13% of cases.
  17. The risk of lung cancer increases with age, with an estimated 83% of cases being diagnosed in people aged 65 or older.
  18. Lung cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States.
  19. More people in the United States die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer.
  20. Males have a higher rate of getting and dying from lung cancer than females.
  21. Lung cancer mainly occurs in older people. Most people diagnosed with lung cancer are 65 or older, according to the American Cancer Society.
  22. The average age of people when diagnosed with lung cancer is about 70.
  23. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States.
  24. Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, accounting for about 80% of cases.
  25. Exposure to radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer.
  26. The five-year survival rate for lung cancer is 21.7%, according to the National Cancer Institute.
  27. African Americans have a higher incidence of lung cancer and a lower survival rate than other racial and ethnic groups (source: American Cancer Society).
  28. Lung cancer is responsible for more deaths than breast, prostate, and colon cancer combined.
  29. Lung cancer incidence rates have been declining in the United States for decades, but progress has been slower for women than for men.
  30. Screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) can reduce deaths from lung cancer by detecting the disease at an early stage.
  31. The five-year survival rate for people diagnosed with lung cancer that has not spread beyond the lungs is 62%.
  32. The five-year survival rate for people diagnosed with lung cancer that has spread to other parts of the body is 6%.
  33. The five-year survival rate for people diagnosed with lung cancer that
  34. About 80-90% of lung cancers are linked to tobacco use.
  35. Even exposure to secondhand smoke can significantly increase a person’s risk of developing lung cancer.
  36. Up to 20% of people who die from lung cancer in the United States every year have never smoked or used any other form of tobacco.
  37. Lung cancer symptoms often do not appear until the disease is in an advanced stage.
  38. Lung cancer symptoms may include persistent cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, hoarseness, weight loss, and recurring infections like bronchitis or pneumonia.
  39. Lung cancer can spread to other parts of the body, such as the brain, bones, liver, and adrenal glands, often before it’s even diagnosed.
  40. Recent advancements in medicine have led to targeted therapies for lung cancer.
  41. Treatments for lung cancer are specifically designed to target mutations or changes that can occur in the genes of lung cancer cells.
  42. Lung cancer screening can save lives.
  43. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends yearly lung cancer screening with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) for certain groups at high risk.
  44. Despite its seriousness, if lung cancer is detected early, the five-year survival rate can be as high as 56% for localized stages.
  45. Unfortunately, only about 16% of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at an early stage.
  46. Long-term exposure to air pollution, particularly from vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions, and other environmental pollutants, can increase the risk of developing lung cancer.
  47. Certain occupations have a higher risk of lung cancer due to exposure to carcinogens.
  48. Workers in the mining, construction, and manufacturing industries may be at a higher risk because they may be exposed to substances such as asbestos, silica, and diesel exhaust.
  49. Lung cancer survival rates vary significantly based on race and ethnicity.
  50. In the United States, African-Americans have higher mortality rates from lung cancer compared to other racial or ethnic groups.
  51. A family history of lung cancer can also increase a person’s risk of developing the disease, suggesting a genetic predisposition.
  52. There is a condition called lung cancer in never smokers (LCINS) that is considered a distinct entity due to its different clinical, molecular, and epidemiological features.
  53. Ground glass nodules (GGNs), which can be detected in a CT scan, might be early indicators of lung cancer, even though they are not necessarily cancerous.
  54. There are rare subtypes of lung cancer, including carcinoid tumors, salivary gland carcinomas, and others. They represent less than 5% of all lung cancer diagnoses but have unique characteristics and treatment strategies.
  55. Studies suggest that diet and exercise may influence lung cancer risk.
  56. A diet high in fruits and vegetables may help reduce the risk of lung cancer.
  57. Research has identified “driver mutations,” specific genetic mutations that are responsible for the growth of cancer. Identifying these mutations can help guide targeted therapies, allowing for more personalized treatment approaches.

Final Thoughts

The data and information presented here highlight the pervasive nature of lung cancer and its significant impact on public health worldwide.

While strides have been made in diagnosis and treatment, the disease’s incidence and mortality rates underscore the need for ongoing research, advocacy, and education.

By understanding and disseminating the facts surrounding lung cancer, we can contribute to the global conversation, increasing awareness and sparking action.

Each of us has a role to play in the fight against lung cancer, and together, we can make a difference.

Written by:

John Landry, BS, RRT

John Landry is a registered respiratory therapist from Memphis, TN, and has a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. He enjoys using evidence-based research to help others breathe easier and live a healthier life.


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