Lung Cancer - Non-Small Cell: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 03/2023

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the estimated number of people who will be diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors, and no 2 people with cancer are the same. Use the menu to see other pages.

Every person is different, with different factors influencing their risk of being diagnosed with this cancer and the chance of recovery after a diagnosis. It is important to talk with your doctor about any questions you have around the general statistics provided below and what they may mean for you individually. The original sources for these statistics are provided at the bottom of this page.

How many people are diagnosed with NSCLC?

Worldwide, lung cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer. NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer in the United States, accounting for 81% of all lung cancer diagnoses.

In 2023, an estimated 238,340 adults (117,550 men and 120,790 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with lung cancer. Worldwide, an estimated 2,206,771 people were diagnosed with lung cancer in 2020. These statistics include both small cell lung cancer and NSCLC.

Since around 2006, incidence rates in the United States have dropped over 1% each year in women compared to 2.6% each year in men. The drop in cases for both men and women are due to fewer people smoking.

Currently, Black and White women have lower incidence rates than men. Black men, who have the highest lung cancer rates, are about 12% more likely to get lung cancer than White men. Black women are 16% less likely to get lung cancer when compared with White women.

The risk of lung cancer increases with age. An estimated 53% of all people diagnosed with the disease are age 70 or older. An estimated 83% of cases are diagnosed in people age 65 or older. Men are most likely to be diagnosed with NSCLC between the ages of 80 and 84, while most cases in women are found between the ages of 75 and 79.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for men and women worldwide. It is estimated that 127,070 deaths (67,160 men and 59,910 women) from this disease will occur in the United States in 2023. In 2020, an estimated 1,796,144 people died worldwide from the disease.

Lung cancer makes up around 20% of cancer deaths in the United States. However, death rates for the disease through 2020 have declined by 58% since 1990 in men and 36% since 2002 in women. From 2014 to 2020, the death rates for men with lung cancer dropped by around 5% each year. The death rates for women with lung cancer declined 4% per year during the same period. Research suggests that these declines are due to fewer people starting smoking, more people quitting smoking, and advances in diagnosis and treatment.

Since 1990, Black men have experienced the largest declines in death rate for lung cancer among men. In the early 1990s, Black men were 40% more likely to be die from the disease than White men, compared to 14% during 2016 to 2020. Among women, Black women saw the sharpest drop in death rate since the early or late 2000s. In 2020, the lung cancer death rate in Black women was 17% lower than White women, compared to 4% in 1990.

What is the survival rate for NSCLC?

There are different types of statistics that can help doctors evaluate a person’s chance of recovery from NSCLC. These are called survival statistics. A specific type of survival statistic is called the relative survival rate. It is often used to predict how having cancer may affect life expectancy. Relative survival rate looks at how likely people with NSCLC are to survive for a certain amount of time after their initial diagnosis or start of treatment compared to the expected survival of similar people without this cancer.

Example: Here is an example to help explain what a relative survival rate means. Please note this is only an example and not specific to this type of cancer. Let’s assume that the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific type of cancer is 90%. “Percent” means how many out of 100. Imagine there are 1,000 people without cancer, and based on their age and other characteristics, you expect 900 of the 1,000 to be alive in 5 years. Also imagine there are another 1,000 people similar in age and other characteristics as the first 1,000, but they all have the specific type of cancer that has a 5-year survival rate of 90%. This means it is expected that 810 of the people with the specific cancer (90% of 900) will be alive in 5 years.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with NSCLC are only an estimate. They cannot tell an individual person if cancer will or will not shorten their life. Instead, these statistics describe trends in groups of people previously diagnosed with the same disease, including specific stages of the disease.

The 5-year relative survival rate for all types of lung cancer in the United States is 23%. For NSCLC, the 5-year relative survival rate is 28%.

The survival rates for lung cancer vary based on several factors. These include the stage of cancer, a person’s age and general health, and how well the treatment plan works. Another factor that can affect outcomes is the subtype of lung cancer.

The 5-year relative survival rate for NSCLC in women in the United States is 33%. The 5-year relative survival rate for men is 23%.

For people with localized NSCLC, which means the cancer has not spread outside the lung, the overall 5-year relative survival rate is 65%. However, around 70% of people with NSCLC are diagnosed after the cancer has spread outside the lung. For regional NSCLC, which means the cancer has spread outside of the lung to nearby lymph nodes, the 5-year relative survival rate is about 37%. When cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, called metastatic lung cancer, the 5-year relative survival rate is 9%. It is important to note that newer treatments like targeted therapies and immunotherapies (see Types of Treatment) are allowing people with metastatic lung cancer to live longer than ever before.

Each year, tens of thousands of people are cured of NSCLC in the United States. In 2022, there were more than 650,000 people alive in the United States who have a history of lung cancer. And, some patients with advanced lung cancer can live many years after diagnosis. Sometimes patients who are told that their lung cancer is incurable live longer than many who are told that their lung cancer is curable. The important thing to remember is that lung cancer is treatable at any stage, and these treatments have been proven to help people with lung cancer live longer with better quality of life.

Experts measure relative survival rate statistics for NSCLC every 5 years. This means the estimate may not reflect the results of advancements in how NSCLC is diagnosed or treated from the last 5 years. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's (ACS) publications, Cancer Facts & Figures 2023 and Cancer Facts & Figures 2022, the ACS website, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer website. (All sources accessed February 2023.)

The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers drawings of body parts often affected by NSCLC. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.