Lung Cancer Facts & Figures

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer and the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in adults in the United States. The American Lung Association reports that lung cancer caused an estimated 160,340 deaths in 2012—more than the next three most common types of cancer (colon, breast, and prostate) combined—almost 28 percent of all cancer deaths. Lung cancer surpassed breast cancer in 1987 as the leading cause for cancer-related deaths in women.

Due to the low 5-year survival rate for lung cancer, there is a close relationship between the number of lung cancer cases and lung cancer deaths. Although lung cancer survival rates in the United States have improved over the last 40 years, the percentage (approximately 13 percent) continues to be low in comparison to other cancers.

In January 2014, the CDC announced that tobacco-control efforts had a major impact on reducing lung cancer rates in the United States between 2005 and 2009. During this time period, incidence in men dropped 2.6 percent—from 87 to 78 cases per 100,000—and incidence in women dropped 1.1 percent—from 57 to 54 per 100,000. The highest reduction occurred in adults 35–44 years of age.

According to the CDC, this improvement shows the importance of tobacco prevention and control programs. It's estimated that smoking contributes to 80 percent of lung cancer deaths in women and 90 percent of lung cancer deaths in men. In nonsmokers, exposure to secondhand smoke causes about 3,400 lung cancer deaths each year.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 14 Aug 1999

Last Modified: 24 Sep 2015