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Noteworthy Numbers

TOP - Special Issue May 2012, Vol 5, No 3 published on May 23, 2012

The leading cause of cancer death among men and women is lung cancer. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), more people die of lung cancer than of breast, colon, and prostate cancers combined. Because this deadly disease affects so many Americans, lets delve into these lung cancer–related statistics.

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).

Approximately 14% of all new cancers are lung cancers.

The ACS’s most recent estimates for lung cancer in the United States for 2012 include:

  • New diagnoses totaling 226,160
    • 116,470 in men
    • 109,690 in women
  • An estimated 160,340 deaths
    • 87,750 in men
    • 72,590 in women
  • Deaths will account for approximately 27% of all cancer deaths

Lung cancer occurs more often in older people.

From 2004-2008, the average age at the time of lung cancer diagnosis was approximately 71 years; the percentage of patients diagnosed according to age was approximately:

  • 0.2% between 20 and 34
  • 1.6% between 35 and 44
  • 8.8% between 45 and 54
  • 20.9% between 55 and 64
  • 31.1% between 65 and 74
  • 29.0% between 75 and 84
  • 8.3% for 85+ years of age

Since 1994, death rates have declined consistently for men at a rate of about 3% each year. Currently, the risk of developing lung cancer during a man’s lifetime is about 1 in 13.

After increasing for several decades, the death rates for women with lung cancer have stabilized since 2003.

Currently, the possibility of developing lung cancer is lower for women than men—about 1 in 16.

The 1-year survival rate for all people diagnosed with lung cancer is 43%.


Last modified: July 22, 2021