Lung cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the United States, with about 2.21 million global cases as of 2020.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) list lung cancer as a common form of cancer.

While statistics show the number of lung cancer diagnoses, the American Lung Association believes that the true number of cases may even be higher, as many people have not received screenings for the condition.

According to the association, in some states, the rate of screening is as low as 1%.

This article discusses the statistics for lung cancer, the prevalence of different types of lung cancer, lung cancer risk factors, and more.

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According to the CDC, lung cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S., following skin cancer, breast cancer in females, and prostate cancer in males.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that in 2023, about 238,340 individuals will receive a new diagnosis of lung cancer and that there will be around 127,070 fatalities from the disease.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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Who gets lung cancer?

Lung cancer affects people of all ages and genders, irrespective of ethnicity or race.

However, because of differences in hormones, genetic makeup, environmental exposures, and other factors, the risk differs among different groups.

For example, Black males are 12% more likely than white males to develop lung cancer.

In general, males are more likely than females to receive a lung cancer diagnosis. This could be because of a difference in smoking habits.

Overall, the lifetime risk of females developing lung cancer is about 1 in 17, while the risk for males is 1 in 16. This statistic applies to people who smoke and those who do not.

Additionally, those aged 65 years and above have a higher risk of receiving a lung cancer diagnosis. The average age when people receive a diagnosis of the condition is 70 years.

Lung cancer has two main types: NSCLC and SCLC.

NSCLC is the most common type, making up around 80–85% of all lung cancer cases.

SCLC is not as common — this type of lung cancer grows quickly and spreads faster than NSCLC. SCLC makes up about 10–15% of lung cancer cases.

Some risk factors for lung cancer include the following:

  • Smoking: This is the biggest risk factor for lung cancer, as experts link it to about 80% of lung cancer deaths. Healthcare professionals believe that chemicals in cigarette smoke cause lung cancer by damaging cells lining the lungs, creating cell mutations.
  • Radon: Radon is an odorless, invisible, naturally occurring gas that forms in soil, water, and rock. According to the CDC, it is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. A 2020 meta-analysis of case-control studies associated radon with an increased risk of lung cancer.
  • Family history: Some inherited mutations can increase the risk of developing lung cancer, and people with a family history of the condition are at a higher risk.
  • Air pollution: Having exposure to pollutants, such as car engine exhaust emissions, can increase the risk of lung cancer. Between 1% and 2% of all lung cancer deaths in the U.S. may be due to air pollution.

This section answers some frequently asked questions about how common lung cancer is.

How common is lung cancer in non-smokers?

In the U.S., 10–20% of lung cancer cases occur in people who do not smoke or have never smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime.

NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer that affects people who do not smoke.

Who is more likely to get lung cancer?

People who smoke, people with a family history of lung cancer, older adults, and people who receive exposure to secondhand smoke, radon, and other chemicals or air pollutants are more likely to develop lung cancer.

People aged 65 years and older have a higher risk of receiving a lung cancer diagnosis. Additionally, males have slightly higher rates of lung cancer than females. This may be due to a difference in smoking habits.

Additionally, Black males are around 12% more likely than white males to develop lung cancer. However, researchers do not know why.

However, in Black females, the rate is about 16% lower than in white females.

How many people died of lung cancer in 2022?

The ACS projected about 130,180 lung cancer-related deaths in 2022.

However, many health organizations are still working on compiling statistics for that year.

Lung cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S. and one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide.

However, there has been an improvement in the lung cancer outlook in recent years due to better treatment methods, advancements in research, and other factors.

While anyone can develop lung cancer, there are things people can do to reduce their risk, such as quitting or avoiding smoking, limiting exposure to secondhand smoke, and limiting exposure to environmental carcinogens.