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49 Key Lung Cancer Statistics

Must-know facts and figures for 2020

Did you know that lung cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. and the leading cancer killer among men and women?

Despite being the deadliest cancer among Americans, lung cancer is underfunded — largely due to myths that influence public perception of the disease such as the idea that it’s untreatable or primarily a “smoker’s disease.”

That’s why educating the public about lung cancer is crucial. Anyone is susceptible to the disease, and you should learn more about its causes and symptoms.

The Mesothelioma Center at has compiled 49 need-to-know lung cancer statistics that explain how lung cancer affects you and those around you.

The State of Lung Cancer in the U.S.

  • About 13% of all new cancers in the U.S. are lung cancers.


  • An estimated 228,820 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2020.


  • Each year, more people die of lung cancer than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined.


  • An estimated 135,720 people will die from lung cancer in the U.S. in 2020.


  • A new lung cancer diagnosis occurs in the U.S. every 2.3 minutes.


  • 1 in 16 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime.


Lung Cancer Demographics

  • The lifetime risk of developing lung cancer for nonsmoking men is 0.2% and 0.4% for women.


  • Lung cancer kills an average of 181 women each day in the U.S.

    GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer

  • 61% of lung cancer cases in the U.S. are diagnosed in people ages 65 to 84.


  • Lung cancer is the second most common cancer among blacks.


  • Black men are more likely to die from lung cancer than white men.

  • About 116,300 men and 112,520 women will be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2020.


  • White women have the highest rate of lung cancer among women.

  • Men have a 1 in 15 chance of developing lung cancer in their lifetime.


  • The average age at diagnosis for lung cancer is 71.

    Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Early Detection, Diagnosis and Staging

  • Only 16% of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at an early stage.

    American Lung Association

  • 21% of lung cancer patients underwent surgery to remove malignant tumors in 2018, increasing their likelihood of survival.


  • People diagnosed at an early stage of lung cancer are 5 times more likely to survive.


  • If everyone eligible for lung cancer screening took advantage of it, the U.S. could prevent up to 12,000 deaths a year.


  • Only 1.9% of 7.6 million smokers deemed eligible for screening according to United States Preventive Services Task Force criteria were screened in 2016.


Lung Cancer and Smoking

  • Roughly 80% of people who develop lung cancer are nonsmokers.

    Verywell Health

  • Fewer than 10% of lifelong smokers will get lung cancer.

    Live Science

  • Smoking accounts for at least 87% of lung cancer deaths.


  • Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke at work or at home increase their risk of developing lung cancer by 20% to 30%.


  • As many as 20% of Americans who die from lung cancer every year are nonsmokers.


  • Around 7,000 adults die each year from lung cancer as a result of secondhand smoke.


Mesothelioma and Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer

  • About 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year in the U.S.

  • The 2-year survival rate for stage 2 and stage 3 mesothelioma ranges from 26% to 38%.

  • Researchers show 20 million people in the U.S. are at risk for developing mesothelioma from asbestos exposure.


  • The overall 5-year survival rate for mesothelioma patients is only 10%.

  • Asbestos-related lung cancer kills twice as many Americans each year as mesothelioma.

  • As an asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma usually doesn’t show until 20 to 50 years after asbestos exposure.

  • The risk for developing mesothelioma is 10 times higher for people older than 60 compared to people younger than 40.

Life Expectancy and Survival Rates for Non-Small Cell (NSCLC) and Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)

  • Only 31 states track 5-year lung cancer survival rates.


  • The 5-year survival rate for lung cancer patients is lower than that of other cancers such as breast cancer and prostate cancer.

    American Lung Association

  • The 5-year survival rate for lung cancer is 18.6%.

    American Lung Association

  • More than half of people who have lung cancer die within one year of diagnosis.

    American Lung Association

  • The overall 5-year survival rate for SCLC is only 6%.

    Verywell Health

  • NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for 84% of all lung cancer cases.


  • The overall 5-year survival rate for NSCLC is roughly 24%.

    Verywell Health

  • SCLC represents about 15% to 20% of lung cancers.


  • For limited stage SCLC, the five-year survival rate is only 14%.


Causes, Risk Factors and Prevention

  • Radon is responsible for nearly 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. every year.


  • 1 in 15 homes in the U.S. are thought to have high levels of radon.


  • The National Cancer Institute confirmed that asbestos causes lung cancer in 1942.

  • Smoking increases your risk of developing lung cancer from other harmful substances such as asbestos, arsenic and diesel exhaust.


  • Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of about 4% of lung cancer cases.

  • The best prevention is to avoid smoking cigarettes, which contain at least 70 carcinogens.


  • Smoking cigarettes increases your risk of getting lung cancer 20 times.


Raise Your Cancer Awareness

More people should be aware of lung cancer and its causes. Educating yourself about the risk factors and causes may reduce your risk of developing lung cancer. It can also help you identify symptoms, so you can catch the disease in its early stages.

At, we understand the importance of cancer awareness and how it can positively impact the population. That’s why we seek to educate the community with expert resources about mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. If you or a loved one has mesothelioma, or suspect you may be experiencing symptoms, contact us today.

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Last Modified June 11, 2020

Registered Nurse and Patient Advocate

Karen Selby joined in 2009. She is a registered nurse with a background in oncology and thoracic surgery and was the regional director of a tissue bank before becoming a Patient Advocate at The Mesothelioma Center. Karen has assisted surgeons with thoracic surgeries such as lung resections, lung transplants, pneumonectomies, pleurectomies and wedge resections. She is also a member of the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators.

Walter Pacheco, Managing Editor at
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