How common is lung cancer?

Dr. Vijay Nuthakki, MD
Cardiothoracic Surgeon
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. Lung cancer (both small cell and non-small cell) is the second most common cancer in both men (after prostate cancer) and women (after breast cancer). The average age at the time of diagnosis is 70. In 2007, there were 65.6 cases of lung cancer per 100,000 people. U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999-2007 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report.
Joane Goodroe
Nursing Specialist

New Study on Lung Cancer released September 2011:

Lung cancer rates decline. Nationwide report shows a continuing decline among men, and a promising decline among women.

The rates of new lung cancer cases in the United States dropped among men in 35 states and among women in 6 states between 1999 and 2008, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among women, lung cancer incidence decreased nationwide between 2006 and 2008, after increasing steadily for decades.

Researchers analyzed lung cancer data from CDC′s National Program of Cancer Registries and the National Cancer Institute′s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program. They estimated smoking behavior by state using the CDC′s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

Study findings include:

  • Among men, lung cancer rates continued to decrease nationwide.
  • From 1999 to 2008 lung cancer rates among men decreased in 35 states and remained stable in nine states (change could not be assessed in six states and the District of Columbia).
  • States with the lowest lung cancer incidence among men were clustered in the West.
  • After increasing for years, lung cancer rates among women decreased nationwide between 2006 and 2008.
  • Lung cancer rates decreased between 1999 and 2008 among women in California, Florida, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.
  • Lung cancer rates among women remained stable in 24 states, and increased slightly in 14 states (change could not be assessed in six states and the District of Columbia).

The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that more than 222,500 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2017, and more than 155,000 people with lung cancer will die. About 14 percent of all new cancers are lung cancers. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, with more people dying of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. Non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for 80 percent to 85 percent of all lung cancer diagnoses, according to the ACS. 

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