What are the key statistics about lung cancer?
Most lung cancer statistics include both small cell and non-small cell lung cancers. In general, small cell lung cancer accounts for about 10% to 15% of all lung cancers.
Lung cancer (both small cell and non-small cell) is the second most common cancer in both men and women (not counting skin cancer). In men, prostate cancer is more common, while in women breast cancer is more common. Lung cancer accounts for about 13% of all new cancers.
The American Cancer Society’s estimates for lung cancer (including both small cell and non-small cell) in the United States for 2015 are:
- About 221,200 new cases of lung cancer (115,610 in men and 105,590 among women)
- An estimated 158,040 deaths from lung cancer (86,380 in men and 71,660 among women), accounting for about 27% of all cancer deaths
Lung cancer accounts for more than a quarter of all cancer deaths and is by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.
Lung cancer mainly occurs in older people. About 2 out of 3 people diagnosed with lung cancer are 65 or older; fewer than 2% of all cases are found in people younger than 45. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 70.
Overall, the chance that a man will develop lung cancer in his lifetime is about 1 in 13; for a woman, the risk is about 1 in 16. These numbers include both smokers and non-smokers. For smokers the risk is much higher, while for non-smokers the risk is lower.
Black men are about 20% more likely to develop lung cancer (including all types) than are white men. The rate is about 10% lower in black women than in white women. Both black and white women have lower rates than men, but the gap is closing. The lung cancer rate has been dropping among men over the past 2 decades, but has just recently begun to drop in women.
In contrast, black men are about 15% less likely to develop small cell lung cancer than are white men, and the risk is about 30% lower in black women than in white women.
Statistics on survival in people with lung cancer vary depending on the stage (extent) of the cancer when it is diagnosed. Survival statistics based on the stage of the cancer are discussed in the section “Small cell lung cancer survival rates by stage”
Last Medical Review: 09/12/2014
Last Revised: 03/09/2015