Lung Cancer Facts


  1. Nearly 155,000 lives are lost annually.1
  2. 154,050 people in the U.S. will die of lung cancer in 2018.1
  3. More than the next 3 deadliest cancers combined (colorectal cancer 50,630, pancreatic cancer 44,330, breast cancer 41,400) – it accounts for 25% of all cancer deaths.1
  4. Lung cancer kills 422 people every day.1
  5. Every 3.4 minutes, someone in the U.S. dies of lung cancer.1
  6. Lung cancer kills almost twice as many women as breast cancer and more than three times as many men as prostate cancer.1
  7. Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer among women in the United States, surpassing breast cancer in 1987.2
  8. It’s estimated that more than 70,000 American women will die of lung cancer in 2018.1
  9. Lung cancer kills 193 women every day – 8 per hour, one death every 7 minutes.1
  10. During the past 39 years, the lung cancer death rate has fallen 29% among men while increasing 102% among women. Since the peak death rate for men in 1990, the death rate for men has fallen 41%. Since the peak death rate for women in 2002, the death rate for women has fallen 15%.3


  1. 1 in 15 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime—1 in 14 men and 1 in 17 women.4
  2. 234,030 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2018.1
  3. 641 people will be diagnosed each day.1
  4. 27 people will be diagnosed each hour.1
  5. Every 2 ½ minutes someone in the U.S. is told that he or she has lung cancer.1
  6. The median age at diagnosis is 70 and 69% of lung cancer diagnoses are in people 65 or older.3
  7. Every 5 minutes, a women in the U.S. is told that she has lung cancer.1
  8. Only 16% of people will be diagnosed in the earliest stage, when the disease is most treatable.3
  9. Over the last 39 years, the rate of new lung cancer cases has fallen 32% among men while increasing 94% among women. Since the peak rate for men in 1984, the rate of new cases for men has dropped 41%. Since the peak rate of new cases for women in 1998, the rate of new cases for women has fallen 10%.5
  10. There were 130,659 lung cancer deaths due to smoking each year from 2005-2009 and 7,330 from secondhand smoke exposure in 2006.6
  11. Radon causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year, making it the second leading cause of lung cancer death.7
  12. The relative risk from smoking has increased over time, despite a decrease in smoking prevalence and the average number of cigarettes consumed per smoker. It has increased by close to tenfold for women, compared to more than doubling for men, meaning women and men are now equally likely to die from a smoking-related disease.8


  1. Lung cancer has the lowest 5-year survival rate of the other most common cancers: only 18% (compared to prostate at 99%, breast at 90%, and colorectal 65%).3, 9-11
  2. Half of women (50.1%) diagnosed with lung cancer will survive one year. Only one in five women (22%) will survive five years.12 13
  3. Among women, the lifetime risk of dying from lung cancer is 82% greater than the risk of dying from the next most likely cancer, breast.14
  4. The risk of developing lung cancer in a woman’s lifetime is approximately 1 in 17 (6.04 %).4
  5. Lung cancer diagnosed and treated at an early stage has a much higher survival rate, but most cases are not diagnosed until later stages.3
  6. Only 18% of lung cancer cases among women are diagnosed early (localized/stage 1).13
  7. If lung cancer is caught before it spreads, the likelihood of surviving 5 years or more improves to 55%.3
  8. Early detection, by low-dose CT screening, can decrease lung cancer mortality by 14%-20% among high-risk populations15 16

Causes and Costs

  1. Smoking isn’t the only cause of lung cancer. Other known causes include exposure to secondhand smoke, air pollution, radon, and asbestos.17
  2. Major prospective studies support the relationship between particle pollution and lung cancer.18
  3. Employees who smoke cost their employer nearly $6,000 more each year compared to nonsmoking employees.19
  4. $13.4 billion was spent on lung cancer care in 2015.4
  5. More was spent on care in the last year of life ($5.5 billion) for lung cancer than any other cancer in 2015.20
  6. The $39 billion in lost productivity due to lung cancer deaths was more than the next four costliest cancers combined. It was the costliest cancer in terms of lost productivity, and accounted for 27% of the total cost of lost productivity for all cancers.21
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.
4 Tables 15.18-15.20
5 U.S. National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute: Table 15.6
6 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. 2014. Tables 12.4 and 12.9
7 EPA: Health Risk of Radon
8 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Executive Summary, p. 6. 2014.
12 Table 15.17
13 Table 15.12
14 Table 1.20
15 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for Lung Cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. AHRQ Publication No. 13-05196-EF-3.
Humphrey L, Deffebach M, Pappas M, Baumann C, Artis K, Priest Mitchell J, et al. Screening for Lung Cancer: Systematic Review to Update the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. Evidence Synthesis No. 105. AHRQ Publication No. 13-05196-EF-1. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2013.
16 The National Lung Screening Trial Team. Reduced Lung-Cancer Mortality with Low-Dose Computed Tomographic Screening. N Eng J Med 2011; 365-395-409. doi.10.1056/NEJMoa1102873. Aug 4, 2011.
17 Alberg, AJ and Samet, J. Epidemiology of Lung Cancer. Chest, January 2003; 123:21S–49S.
18 The Lancet Oncology, “Air pollution and lung cancer incidence in 17 European cohorts: prospective analyses from the European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects (ESCAPE),” July 2013.
19 Berman M, Crame R, Seriber E, Munur M. Estimating the cost of a smoking employee. Tob Control. June 3, 2013.
20 National Institutes of Health. National Cancer Institute. Cancer Trends Progress Report. November 2015.
21 Bradley CJ, Yabroff KR, Dahman B, Feuer EJ, Mariotto A, Brown ML. Productivity Costs of Cancer Mortality in the United States: 2000-2020. J Natl Cancer Inst 2008; 100:1763-70.