Facts

  • Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death among men and women; about 1 out of 4 cancer deaths are from lung cancer. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.  

  • Overall, the chance that a man will develop lung cancer in his lifetime is about 1 in 14; for a woman, the risk is about 1 in 17. These numbers include both smokers and non-smokers. For smokers the risk is much higher. 

  • Despite the very serious prognosis (outlook) of lung cancer, some people with earlier stage cancers are cured. More than 430,000 people alive today have been diagnosed with lung cancer at some point. 

  • More than 40,000 cases of lung cancer are diagnosed each year in non-smokers. These can be caused by exposure to radon, secondhand smoke, air pollution, or exposure to other cancer-causing agents. 

  • Quitting smoking lowers the chance of getting lung cancer. It is the single most important thing anyone can do to decrease their lung cancer risk. 

  • Smokers should also be aware of the symptoms of lung cancer: chest pain, weakness, and shortness of breath, and see a doctor if they notice these changes. 

  • Most lung cancers do not cause symptoms until they have spread too far to be cured. But symptoms do occur in some people with early lung cancer.  

  • Both current and ex-smokers can get screened for lung cancer, too. Lung cancer screening doesn’t decrease the chance of getting lung cancer, but it can help lower the risk of dying from the disease. 

  • The stage of both small cell and non-small cell lung cancer is described by a number, zero through four (Roman numerals are used).

  • The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another is known as metastasis, and the tumors formed by those cancer cells that have spread are called metastases. Lung cancer metastases can spread to lymph nodes around the lungs, and they can also travel through the bloodstream to other organs, such as bones, and the brain.

  • Cancer, of any kind, develops when a set of specific changes, called mutations, develop in a previously normal cell. The mutations affects genes in ways that change the natural growth and death cycles of cells, unregulated cell division can result in too many cells.

  • Despite being the USA's number one cancer killer for both men and women, lung cancer is the most under-funded and under-researched cancer, receiving the least amount of government research dollars each year compared to colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers.

  • Only 16% of people with lung cancer are alive 5 years after their diagnosis, compared to 64% for colon cancer, 89% for breast cancer, and 99% for prostate cancer.

  • One in five women and one in twelve men diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked. That means 20,000 to 30,000 never smokers are diagnosed with the disease each year.

  • More never-smokers die of lung cancer in America each year than do people battling leukemia, ovarian cancer, or AIDS.

  • Lung cancer is not a smokers disease.  If you have lungs, you can get lung cancer.

Facts obtained from the American Cancer Society, Lung Force, Lungevity, National Cancer Institute, the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, Lung Cancer Alliance, and the American Lung Association. - Updated 11/29/16 

Faces of Lung Cancer

Most people are surprised to learn that you don't have to smoke to get lung cancer. Anyone with lungs can be diagnosed with lung cancer.  

Many LCC members used to believe the face of lung cancer was the stereotypical grizzled old man or woman, who coughed constantly, had yellow teeth, pale skin, and smoked like a chimney. Certainly not anyone representative of the general population, let alone our own families. But since lung cancer forced its way onto the canvas of our lives, we have learned the truth about the nature of this devastating disease. Namely, that lung cancer affects mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, grandmothers, grandfathers, loved ones and friends. 

Although the chance of getting lung cancer increases with age (the majority of people who develop lung cancer are between 50 and 70 years old), our experiences have taught us that lung cancer occurs across all ages, races, ethnicities, incomes and socioecomonic backgrounds. Please click on the menu to the left and read about our LCC members' amazing journeys with lung cancer. We hope you will be informed and inspired by their stories. You will see that the face of lung cancer could be anyone, including you.  We hope this knowledge will inspire action.