Lung Cancer Statistics

Important Statistics Describing Lung Cancer

stethoscope draped over Ipad with figures
What are the statistics describing lung cancer?.

Lung cancer statistics are alarming, especially when viewed in relation to the amount of funding dedicated to lung cancer relative to other cancers. Lung cancer is currently responsible for 29 percent of cancer deaths in the United States, responsible for more deaths than breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer combined. Even though more women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and more men with prostate cancer, lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women.

Lung Cancer Incidence

It's estimated that in 2014 there will be 224,210 new cases of lung cancer:

  • 116,000 in men 
  • 72,330 in women 

Number of Survivors in the U.S.

Roughly 400,000 lung cancer survivors are living in the United States. Sadly, due to the lower survival rate of lung cancer vs. breast and prostate cancers, there are fewer lung cancer survivors than breast and prostate cancer survivors. And this has been cited as one cause for a relative lack of funding and awareness of lung cancer.

Age of Diagnosis

The average age at which lung cancer is diagnosed is 70, with less than 2 percent of lung cancers diagnosed under the age of 45. That said, lung cancer does occur in young adults and even children.

Lifetime Risk of Lung Cancer

The overall risk of developing lung cancer during your lifetime is 1 in 13 for men, and 1 in 16 for women.

Cost of Lung Cancer

In 2004, 9.6 billion per year was spent on the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer in the United States.

Survival Rate

The overall 5-year survival rate for all stages of lung cancer is:

  • 13.7 percent for white men
  • 18.3 percent for white women
  • 10.8 percent for black men
  • 14.5 percent for black women

Stage at Diagnosis and Survival Rate:

Survival rate for lung cancer is better the earlier it is diagnosed. The 5-year survival rate for stage 1 non-small cell lung cancer is 45 to 49 percent, whereas the 5-year survival rate for stage 4 (metastatic) non-small cell lung cancer is only 1 to 2 percent.

Stage at Diagnosis

Over half of lung cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage:

  • 16 percent are diagnosed at the earliest stage
  • 25 percent are diagnosed after they have spread beyond the primary site to lymph nodes
  • 51 percent are diagnosed after they have spread (metastasized) to distant regions of the body

Change Over Time

  • Change in Incidence (United States):
    • For men, new cases of lung cancer decreased 1.8 percent per year from 1991 to 2005
    • For women, lung cancer incidence increased 0.5 percent per year from 1991 to 2005 (California is the only state where lung cancer is decreasing in women)
  • Change in Survival:
    • For men, lung cancer deaths decreased 1.3 percent per year from 1993 to 2005
    • For women, there was no change in the death rate from lung cancer from 2003 to 2005

Statistics on Smoking and Lung Cancer

Smoking is considered the cause of lung cancer in 90 percent on men, and 80 percent of women diagnosed with the disease. Men who smoke are 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer than men who do not smoke, and female smokers are 13 times more likely to develop the disease. Even though smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, the majority of people currently diagnosed with lung cancer do not smoke; 50 percent of these cancers occur in former smokers, and 15 percent in those who have never smoked at all.


American Cancer Society. Lung Cancer (Non-Small Cell.) Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Survival Rates by Stage. 04/30/2014.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Lung Cancer. Statistics. Updated 10/23/13.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. National Program of Cancer Registries. United States Cancer Statistics. 1999-2007 Cancer Incidence and Mortality Data. Accessed 03/26/12.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and Tobacco Use. 2004 Surgeon Generals Report – The Health Consequences of Smoking. Smoking Among Adults in the United States: Cancer. Highlights. Accessed 03/01/10.

National Cancer Institute. Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results. SEER Stat Fact Sheets. Cancer: Lung and Bronchus. Accessed 08/18/14.

Tong, L. et al. Lung carcinoma in former smokers. Cancer. 1996. 78(5):1004010.