Lung Cancer Facts: 29 Statistics and Figures

29 Lung Cancer Facts You Should Know

Here are 29 facts about lung cancer that everyone should be aware of – after all, we all have lungs. And, lung cancer accounts for more deaths every year than any other cancer and more than breast, prostate, and colon cancer combined. Stay informed! Read each section for more lung cancer facts, information, and statistics.

Number 1

LIFETIME DIAGNOSIS RATE

Currently, 1 in 16 people in the U.S. can expect to receive a lung cancer diagnosis. That’s 1 out of every 15 men, and 1 out of every 17 women.

Number 2

LUNG CANCER MORTALITY RATE

Lung cancer kills more women than breast cancer, and almost twice as as many men as prostate cancer every year.

Number 3

NO. 1 LADY KILLER

Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer among women in the U.S. — it surpassed breast cancer in 1987.

Number 4

RISKS BESIDES SMOKING

Smoking isn’t the only cause of lung cancer. Other known causes of lung cancer include exposure to secondhand smoke, air pollution, radon, and asbestos.

Number 5

LATE DIAGNOSIS

Fewer than 1 in 7 lung cancer patients will be diagnosed in the earliest stage, when the disease is most treatable.

Number 6

TYPES OF LUNG CANCER

There isn’t just one lung cancer – every lung cancer is unique. Lung cancer is a group of diseases defined by the genetic makeup of the lung cancer tumors.

Number 7

RATE INCREASE IN WOMEN

During the past 40 years, the lung cancer death rate has fallen 17% among men while increasing 94% among women. Lung cancer incidence 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.

Number 8

NO CURE

There is currently no cure for lung cancer, however new research is making it possible for people to live with their lung cancer, managing it like a chronic disease. You can be a part of this progress by supporting research.

Number 9

DEATHS NATIONWIDE

An estimated 131,880 lung cancer deaths are expected to occur in 2021 in the United States, accounting for about 18% of all cancer deaths nationwide.

Number 10

LACK OF FEDERAL FUNDING

Sadly, federal funding for lung cancer research per related death was just $3,116 compared to $15,917 for breast cancer, $7,500 for prostate cancer, and $5,398 for colorectal cancer in 2021.

Number 11

LOWEST SURVIVAL RATE

With a 22% five-year survival rate, lung cancer ranks the lowest among the other most common cancers: prostate cancer (97.5%), breast cancer (90.3%), and colorectal cancer (65%).

Number 12

DEATHS PER DAY

Lung cancer kills 361 people each day in the U.S. — that’s enough to fill an Airbus A340-500 airliner.

Number 13

DEATH RATE PER MINUTE

Every 4 minutes, someone in the U.S. dies of lung cancer.

Number 14

WOMEN’S DEATH RATE SNAPSHOT

It’s estimated that more than 62,000 American women will die of lung cancer in 2021 — that’s 170 women each day, or 7 per hour (or one death every 8.6 minutes).

Number 15

DIAGNOSIS RATE PER MINUTE

An estimated 235,760 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2021. That’s 646 people each day, 27 people each hour, and one person every 2 minutes.

Number 16

SMOKING MYTH

60% – 65% of new lung cancer cases are in former smokers and those who have never smoked.

Number 17

SMOKING RISK

Smoking is still a high-risk factor for lung cancer. There were an average of 130,659 lung cancer deaths due to smoking each year between 2005 and 2010; every year, approximately 7,330 lung cancer deaths are due to secondhand smoke exposure.

Number 18

RADON IS A REAL RISK

Radon causes an estimated 15,000 to 22,000 lung cancer deaths each year, making it the second leading cause of lung cancer death.

Number 19

POLLUTION & LUNG CANCER

An estimated 14% of lung cancer deaths worldwide are caused by indoor or outdoor air pollution.

Number 20

SIMILAR SYMPTOMS

Most lung cancer symptoms can be associated with other health issues. Testing for lung cancer is often overlooked until many other options are ruled out.

Number 21

EARLY DIAGNOSIS SURVIVAL RATE

If lung cancer is caught before it spreads, the likelihood of surviving 5 years or more improves to nearly 60%.

Number 22

EARLY DETECTION MORTALITY RATE

Early detection through low-dose CT screening can decrease lung cancer mortality rates by 14%-20% among high-risk populations.

Number 23

SURVIVAL RATE FOR WOMEN

Half of the women who are diagnosed with lung cancer (50.1%) will survive just one year. Only one in 5 of those women who are diagnosed with lung cancer (22%) will survive to 5 years.

Number 24

CANCER RISK COMPARISON

Among women, the lifetime risk of dying from lung cancer is 82% greater than the risk of dying from breast cancer (the second leading cancer killer of women).

Number 25

MEN & LUNG CANCER

Lung cancer is more common in men than women, particularly African American men. The chance of getting lung cancer increases with age, and, of course, with a smoking history.

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Number 26

EMPLOYEE SMOKING

Employees who smoke cost their employer nearly $6,000 more each year compared to non-smoking employees.

Number 27

LUNG CANCER CARE

$23.8 billion was spent on lung cancer care in 2020.

Number 28

END OF LIFE CARE

In 2020, more than $110,000 per patient with lung cancer was spent in the last year of life.

Number 29

LOST PRODUCTIVITY

The $39 billion in lost productivity due to lung cancer deaths was more than the next 4 costliest cancers combined.

Lung Cancer Funding Facts

An estimated 131,880 lung cancer deaths are expected to occur in 2021 in the United States, accounting for about 27% of all cancer deaths nationwide. However, federal funding for lung cancer research per death was just $3,116 compared to $15,917 for breast, $7,500 for prostate and $5,398 for colon. Not surprisingly, lung cancer has the lowest 5-year survival rate of the other most common cancers: only 22%, versus prostate at 97.5%; breast at 90.3%; and colorectal at 65%.

Animated chart showing funding disparities in research

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2019 Facts and Statistics Sources:

  1. SEER Cancer Statistics Review (CSR) 1975-2015 https://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2015/
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. CDC WONDER On-line Database, compiled from Compressed Mortality File 1999-2014 Series 20 No. 2T, 2016.
  3. https://www.epa.gov/radon/health-risk-radon
  4. https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/UpdateSummaryFinal/lung-cancer-screening
  5. U.S. Department Of Health And Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking — 50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. 2014.