Enter your search term above.

Lung Cancer Facts

Did you know?

LUNG CANCER is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide.1

AN ESTIMATED 235,760 PEOPLE will be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2021 in the U.S.2

1 IN 16 PEOPLE will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime – 1 in 15 men, and 1 in 17 women.2

LUNG CANCER kills almost 3 TIMES as many men as prostate cancer. (source)

LUNG CANCER kills almost 3 times as many women as breast cancer. (source)

Approximately 131,880 AMERICAN LIVES are lost annually.2

541,000 PEOPLE IN THE U.S. TODAY have been diagnosed with lung cancer at some point in their lives.2

THERE IS HOPE. The number of new lung cancer diagnoses are declining steadily by 2% annually since the 2000s. Lung cancer deaths have been cut in half for men and by a third for women.2

Drug Approval Chart
Lung cancer treatment approvals over the decades

Risk factors

Smoking is the leading risk factor for lung cancer and is responsible for 80% of lung cancer deaths. People who have never smoked account for 20% of lung cancer deaths.

Exposure to radon gas is the second leading risk factor of lung cancer.2

Other risk factors include exposure to:2

  • secondhand smoke
  • asbestos
  • radiation
  • air pollution
  • diesel exhaust
  • certain metals (arsenic, chromium, cadmium)
  • certain organic materials

Family history and genetic factors may also play a role in the development of lung cancer.2

People who have never smoked account for 20% of lung cancer diagnoses every year. An estimated 47,152 non-smokers will be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2021.3


See your doctor if you experience any of the following common symptoms of lung cancer:

B – Blood when you cough or spit
R – Recurring respiratory infections
E – Enduring cough that is new or different
A – Ache or pain in shoulder, back or chest
T – Trouble breathing
H – Hoarseness or wheezing
E – Exhaustion, weakness or loss of appetite

Other symptoms may include:

  • swelling in the neck and face
  • difficulty swallowing
  • weight loss

What you can do


Early detection of high-risk lung cancer cases can reduce chance of death by up to 20%. If you smoke now or have in the past, ask your doctor if lung cancer screening may be right for you. Approximately 8 million Americans are at high risk for lung cancer and could benefit from a lung cancer screening …and yet only 5.7% actually get screened.4

Reduce your risk of lung cancer

If you smoke, get the help you need to quit. You can get help from state quitlines and other programs. Visit becomeanex.org or smokefree.gov, or call (800) 784-8669 [(800) QUIT-NOW].

Reduce exposure to radon. If you live in an area with high levels of radon, consider having your house tested for radon exposure and, if needed, take steps to reduce radon levels. More information is available at epa.gov/radon.

Get involved

Share patient resources. Help people living with lung cancer confidently make decisions about their care by distributing our free patient resources at local hospitals and clinics: LCRF.org/resources

Join an event. LCRF brings the lung cancer community together through #TogetherSeparately livestreams, Free to Breathe Yoga, Kites, Walks and other events nationwide: LCRF.org/events.

Start your own fundraiser. Design your own unique fundraiser through our DIY program: LCRF.org/diy
You can also honor a loved one with a memorial fundraising page: LCRF.org/memorial

Help close the funding gap

Lung cancer claims more lives each year than breast, pancreatic, and prostate cancer combined.

Estimated U.S. Federal Funding per Cancer Death, 2021 (source)

But, these three cancers receive an average of 3x MORE RESEARCH FUNDING per life lost than lung cancer.2

Estimated annual cancer deaths (source)

Research means better treatment options and increased survival. Donate to support lung cancer research.


  1. International Agency for Research on Cancer. GLOBOCAN Lung Cancer Facts Sheet 2020.
  2. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2021. Atlanta; American Cancer Society: 2020.
  3. Source: McDowell, Sandy et al. (2020, Oct 14). Lung cancer risks for nonsmokers.
  4. American Lung Association. State of Lung Cancer 2020.
  5. National Institute of Health. Estimates of Funding for Various Research, Condition, and Disease Categories (RCDC), 2020.
  6. Siegel, et al. Cancer Statistics, 2021. CA Cancer J Clin. 2021: 71: 7- 33.