Lung Cancer Facts

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Know the Facts about Lung Cancer

  • Each year in the US, approximately 228,150 people are diagnosed with lung cancer and nearly 142,670 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 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:5
  • Lung cancer takes more lives than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined; it accounts for 25% 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.
Lung Cancer in North Carolina
  • In North Carolina, around 8,010 people are diagnosed with lung cancer, and more than 5,370 are expected to die this year.

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: $750 million/year ²³
  • Results: significant increase in 5-year survival rates:4
    • Early 1970s – 75%
    • Today – 90%
  • US Government research funding: $3 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 $267 million/year ²³
  • Results: very little change in 5-year survival rates:4
    • Early 1970s – 12%
    • Today – 19%
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 2019. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2019.
  2. American Cancer Society, Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2009-2010. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2010
  3. 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
  4. Fast Stats: An interactive tool for access to SEER cancer statistics. Surveillance Research Program, National Cancer Institute. (Accessed on 4-22-2011)
  5. 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:
  6. SEER Stat Fact Sheets. Surveillance Research Program, National Cancer Institute.
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