Lung Cancer Facts

Know the Facts about Lung Cancer

  • This year in the United States, approximately 235,760 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer and nearly 131,880 will die of the disease.¹
  • Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, but approximately 60%-65% of all new lung cancer diagnoses are among people who have never smoked or have already quit smoking. About 50% are former smokers and 10%-15% have never smoked.?
  • Lung cancer takes more lives than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined; it accounts for almost 22% of all cancer deaths.¹
  • African American males have the highest incidence of lung cancer and the highest death rate.

If you'd like to know more about lung cancer, click the fact sheet at the bottom of the page.

Lung Cancer in North Carolina

  • In North Carolina, around 8,830 people are diagnosed with lung cancer, and more than 4,790 are expected to die this year.¹

Did you know?

  • Over the last 30 years, substantial investment has resulted in significant increases in survival of many diseases. For example:
Breast Cancer
  • US Government research funding: $694 million/year²
  • Results: significant increase in 5-year survival rates:³
    • Early 1970s – 75%
    • Today – 90%      
  • US Government research funding: $2.8 billion/year²
  • Results:
    • AIDS was once a near-immediate death sentence
    • Today – with anti-retroviral drug therapy, the 3-year survival rate is 90%.
Lung Cancer
  • US Government research funding: Only $411 million/year²
  • Results: very little change in 5-year survival rates:³
    • Early 1970s – 12%
    • Today – 21%
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.

  1. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2021. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2021.
  2. RePORT, Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools. National Institute of Health.
  3. SEER*Explorer. Surveillance Research Program, National Cancer Institute.
  4. Burns DM. Primary Prevention, smoking, and smoking cessation: Implications for future trends in lung cancer prevention. Cancer, 2000. 89:2506-2509. 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. Satcher, D, Thompson, TG and Kaplan, JP. Women and smoking: a report of the Surgeon General. Nicotine Tob Res, 2002. 4(1): 7-20.? Park et al. 2012:

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