Lung Cancer - Non-Small Cell: Statistics

Aprobado por la Junta Editorial de Cancer.Net, 01/2021

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 235,760 adults (119,100 men and 116,660 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with lung cancer. However, since the mid-2000s, incidence rates have dropped by around 2% each year.

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. Incidence rates are dropping faster in men than in in women.

Black men are about 15% more likely to get lung cancer than white men. Black women are 14% 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 second most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer death for men and women. It is estimated that 131,880 (69,410 men and 62,470 women) deaths from this disease will occur this year.

Lung cancer makes up around 25% of cancer deaths. However, death rates for the disease have declined by 54% since 1990 in men and 30% in women since 2002. From 2014 to 2018, the death rates for men with lung cancer dropped by 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 medical 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 21%. The 5-year survival rate for men is 17%. The 5-year survival rate for women is 24%. The 5-year survival rate for NSCLC is 25%, 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 of 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 areas, 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.

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 2021, the ACS website, and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program (sources accessed January 2021).

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.