Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in men and women when small cell and non-small cell cancer data is combined in the United States. For men, only prostate cancer is more common. For women, only breast cancer is more common. From a global perspective, lung cancer is ranked #1 out of all cancers that are diagnosed.
Lung cancer accounts for about 13% of all new cancer cases every year. In 2015, this means there will be over 221,000 new cases of lung cancer in the US alone.
More than 150,000 people will also lose their battle with this cancer in the next 12 months. It is by far the leading cause of cancer death in both genders, accounting for 27% of all cancer deaths every year. By understanding the demographics of this disease, it may become possible to fight it more effectively in the future.
Who Is Affected By Lung Cancer?
- 67% of people who will be diagnosed with lung cancer in the coming year will be above the age of 65.
- Only 2% of all cases of lung cancer are found in people younger than 45.
- The overall chance of being diagnosed with lung cancer in a man’s lifetime is 1 in 13. For women, the risk is 1 in 16. This includes smoking and non-smoking demographics. For smokers, the risks are much higher than this.
- Men who are African-American/Black are 20% more likely to develop lung cancer than Caucasian/White men.
- Caucasian/White women are 10% more likely to develop cancer when compared to African-American/Black women.
- Despite the seriousness of this disease, there are more than 430,000 people alive today who were once diagnosed with lung cancer.
Lung cancer can develop even though someone may have never smoked or used tobacco products in their life. Because the risks of cancer development are so much higher with these lifestyle choices, however, there is sometimes an assumption made from a medical standpoint that the individual is a smoker. As with any type of cancer, early detection presents people with a better chance to defeat this disease, but this cancer cannot be taken lightly. The mortality statistics prove we have a long way to go to help people who develop lung cancer.
How Smoking Contributes to Lung Cancer
- Smoking accounts for up to 80% of the lung cancer cases which occur in women and up to 90% of the cases which occur in men.
- Men who are smokers have a 23x greater risk of developing lung cancer compared to men who do not smoke. For women, smokers have a 13x greater risk.
- Nonsmokers have a 20-30% greater chance of developing lung cancer if they are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work.
- Radon may contribute to up to 10% of lung cancer cases. Outdoor pollution is believed to contribute to 1-2% of cases.
- Nonsmoking asbestos workers are 5x more likely to develop lung cancer than nonsmokers not exposed to asbestos. When smoking is also involved, the risk factor jumps to 50x that of normal.
The easiest way to begin reducing a personal risk of lung cancer development is to stop smoking or using tobacco products. It really is that simple. Even if lung cancer does not develop, smokers and tobacco users are at a higher risk of throat, stomach, and oral cancers because of product use. Add in radon exposure, environmental influences, and other risk factors that include second-hand smoke and it is no wonder that there are so many lung cancer cases being diagnosed every year. This is why proactive actions are necessary at the individual level.
Can Lung Cancer Be Defeated?
- The 5 year survival rate for lung cancer is just 17.8%. This is much lower than any other common cancer. Even colon cancer has a 65% 5 year survival rate.
- More than 50% of people who are diagnosed with lung cancer will die from it within 12 months of their diagnosis.
- When the developed cancer is still localized within the lungs, the 5 year survival rate jumps to 54%, but only 15% of patients are diagnosed at this stage.
- When the lung cancer has created distant tumors, the 5 year survival rate drops to just 4%.
- The estimated cost of care for lung cancer in the US alone exceeds $120 billion. Lost productivity adds another $130 billion charge to the economy.
Lung cancer is devastating in many different ways. It changes people, families, and even the economy. This is why it is important to quit smoking now. It’s also why laws are being passed to limit smoking in public areas. As we learn more about how these risk factors are all linked together, we are finding that many instances of lung cancer are completely preventable. Have your home tested for radon. Limit second-hand smoke exposure. In doing so, lung cancer can be defeated.