Lung Cancer - Non-Small Cell: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 02/2022

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the number of people who are 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. Use the menu to see other pages.

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 82% of all lung cancer diagnoses.

This year, an estimated 236,740 adults (117,910 men and 118,830 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.

In the United States, the number of new lung cancer cases in men has been dropping annually since the mid-1980s. In women, the number of new cases diagnosed each year started dropping in the mid-2000s. Between 2009 and 2018, incidence rates dropped 1.4% each year in women compared to 2.8% each year in men.

Currently, Black and White women have lower incidence rates than men. Black men are about 15% more likely to get lung cancer than White men. Black women are 16% less likely to get lung cancer when compared with White women. People age 65 and older are more likely to develop the disease. The average age of diagnosis is 70.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for men and women worldwide. It is estimated that 130,180 deaths (68,820 men and 61,360 women) from this disease will occur in the United States this year. In 2020, an estimated 1,796,144 people died worldwide from the disease.

Lung cancer makes up around 25% of cancer deaths in the United States. However, death rates for the disease have declined by 56% since 1990 in men and 32% since 2002 in women. From 2015 to 2019, 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. Research indicates that these declines are due to more people not smoking, more people quitting smoking, and advances in diagnosis and treatment.

The 5-year survival rate tells you what percent of people live at least 5 years after the cancer is found. Percent means how many out of 100. The 5-year survival rate for all people with all types of lung cancer is 22%. The 5-year survival rate for men is 18%. The 5-year survival rate for women is 25%. The 5-year survival rate for NSCLC is 26%, compared to 7% for small cell lung cancer.

However, it is important to note that survival rates depend on several factors, including the subtype of lung cancer and the stage of disease.

For people with localized NSCLC, which means the cancer has not spread outside the lung, the overall 5-year survival rate is 63%. For regional NSCLC, which means the cancer has spread outside of the lung to nearby lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is about 35%. When cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, called metastatic lung cancer, the 5-year survival rate is 7%. It is important to note that newer therapies like targeted treatments 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. 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.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with NSCLC are an estimate. The estimate comes from annual data based on the number of people with this cancer in the United States. Also, experts measure the survival statistics 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) publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2022, the ACS website, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer website. (All sources accessed January 2022.)

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.