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Lung cancer remains the top killer among cancers in U.S.

Lung cancer continues to be one of the most common cancers worldwide, claiming more lives yearly than breast, colon, and prostate cancers combined.
NPR
Lung cancer continues to be one of the most common cancers worldwide, claiming more lives yearly than breast, colon, and prostate cancers combined.

If caught early, survival numbers are encouraging, but most cases are caught late.

Lung cancer is still the number one killer among types of cancer. Frances Dalbey of Hunt Regional Healthcare discusses the importance of early screening, and being aware of risk factors beyond just smoking.

Almost two-thirds of lung cancer instances are diagnosed in late stage, with a low survival rate. Survival rates for people whose lung cancer was detected early are comparatively high. Smokers who quit, including even long-term smokers, improve their chances for recovery dramatically.

Lung cancer facts from the American Thoracic Society:

• Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women, making up almost 25% of all cancer deaths. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.

• Worldwide in 2020, there were 2.21 million new cases of lung cancer and 1.80 million deaths from lung cancer.

• Lung cancer has the lowest 5-year survival rate at only 18% compared to breast at 90%, prostate at 99%, and colorectal at 65%.

• The 5-year survival rate for lung cancer drops dramatically from a stage 1 diagnosis (68-92% survival) to a stage 4 diagnosis (0-10% survival).

• Only 16% of the eligible population will be diagnosed at an early stage when lung cancer is when the disease is most likely to be cured.

• Lung cancer mainly occurs in older people. Most people diagnosed with lung cancer are 65 or older; a very small number of people diagnosed are younger than 45. The average age of people when diagnosed is about 70.

• Approximately 6.1 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with lung and bronchus cancer at some point during their lifetime, based on 2016–2018 data.

• Secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure causes an estimated 3% of all lung cancer deaths, which is the equivalent of 3,590 deaths in 2021.

• People who successfully quit smoking can add as much as a decade of life expectancy and reduce their risk of lung cancer by half after quitting for 10-15 years compared to people who continue to smoke.

• Other than tobacco use, lung cancer risk factors include passive exposure to tobacco smoke, biomass fuel, diesel exhaust, radon, asbestos, and other environmental and workplace carcinogens.