Lung Cancer Facts & Figures

Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer and the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in adults in the United States. According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 221,000 new cases of lung cancer and about 158,000 deaths from the disease occurred in the Unted States in 2015—more than the next three most common types of cancer (colon, breast, and prostate) combined. 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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (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: 15 Dec 2015