Cancer Types | Lung Cancer - National Foundation for Cancer Research

Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer

About Lung Cancer

Hundreds of thousands of people are diagnosed with lung cancer in the U.S. each year. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the US, accounting for about 1 in 5 of all cancer deaths. Thankfully, researchers are making great strides in understanding this disease and how to more effectively treat it. 

Lung Cancer Key Facts

  • In the U.S., an estimated 234,580 people will be diagnosedwith lung cancer this year.
  • Lung cancer is the second most common cancerin both men and women and expects to claim 125,070 lives in 2024 in the U.S.
  • The two main types of lung cancer are: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). About 80% to 85% of lung cancers are NSCLC and about 14% of lung cancers are SCLC.
  • While cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for both NSCLC and SCLC, almost 20% of lung cancer cases occur in non-smokers.
  • The 5-year relative survival rate overall for lung cancer is 25% (8% for SCLC and 30% for NSCLC.
  • Only 24% of people with lung cancer will be diagnosed at the earliest stage when the disease is most treatable. The five-year survival for early-stage, localized lung cancer is 63%.
  • Currently, a low-dose CT scan is the only proven effective way to screen for lung cancer.
Source: American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts & Figures 2024
Lung Cancer Location
new cases expected in 2024
deaths annually
of cases detected early

Prevention Tips

  • Quit Smoking
  • Avoid secondhand smoking
  • Avoid radon exposure
  • Avoid or limit exposure to cancer-causing agents
  • A healthy diet
Resource: Lung Cancer Prevention | How to Prevent Lung Cancer | American Cancer Society
  • A cough that does not go away or gets worse
  • Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum (spit or phlegm)
  • Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that don’t go away or keep coming back
  • New onset of wheezing
Source: American Cancer Society
  • Smoking
  • Secondhand smoking
  • Exposure to Radon
  • Air Pollution
  • Personal or Family history of lung cancer
  • Workplace exposure including:
    • Asbestos
    • Arsenic
    • Diesel exhaust
    • Some forms of silica and chromium
  • Radiation therapy to the chest
  • Certain diets can change the risk of getting lung cancer
  • Arsenic in drinking water
Lung Cancer Risk Factors | Smoking & Lung Cancer | American Cancer Society
What Are the Risk Factors for Lung Cancer? | CDC

NFCR-Supported Researchers Working on Lung Cancer

Wei Zhang, Ph.D.
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

Michael B. Sporn, M.D.
Geisel School of Medicine

Daniel D. Von Hoff, M.D., FACP
Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen)

Aaron N. Hata, M.D., Ph.D.
Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital

Jessica J. Lin, M.D.
Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital

Daniel A. Haber, M.D., Ph.D.
Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center

Susan Band Horwitz, Ph.D.
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Amos B. Smith III, Ph.D.
University of Pennsylvania

Alice T. Shaw, M.D., Ph.D.
Massachusetts General Hospital

Lung Cancer Awareness Month is recognized in November.