Lung Cancer - Non-Small Cell: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 01/2019

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the number of people who are diagnosed with 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.

NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for 84% of all lung cancer diagnoses.

Statistics provided below for lung cancer include both small cell and NSCLC. This year, an estimated 228,150 adults (116,440 men and 111,710 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with lung cancer. Lung cancer makes up about 13% of all new cancer diagnoses. Black men are about 20% more likely to get lung cancer than white men. Black women are 10% less likely to get cancer when compared with white women.

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer death for men and women. It is estimated that 142,670 (76,650 men and 66,020 women) deaths from this disease will occur this year.

Due to a decrease in smoking, death rates have declined by 48% since 1990 in men and 23% in women since 2002. From 2012 to 2016, the death rates for men with lung cancer dropped by 4% each year. The death rates for women with lung cancer declined 3% per year.

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 19%. The 5-year survival rate for men is 16%. The 5-year survival rate for women is 22%. The 5-year survival rate for NSCLC is 23%, compared to 6% 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 of the lung, the overall 5-year survival rate is about 60%. For regional NSCLC, which means the cancer has spread outside of the lung to nearby areas, the 5-year survival rate is about 33%. If the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, called metastatic lung cancer, the 5-year survival rate is 6%, but because of new effective therapies, this number is changing.

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.

Furthermore, 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. So the estimate may not show the results of better diagnosis or treatment available for less than 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 2019, and the ACS website (January 2019).

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.