Lung Cancer Facts

“If You Have Lungs, You Can Get Lung Cancer”

  • Each year in the United States, approximately 220,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer.1 Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, but…
  • Between 20,000 to 30,000 people who have never smoked are diagnosed with lung cancer in the United States each year.5
  • Lung cancer takes more lives than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined; it accounts for 27% of all cancer deaths.1
  • African American males have the highest incidence of lung cancer and the highest death rate.
  • Men’s incidence rates began declining more than 20 years ago, while women’s rates just recently began to decline slightly.
  • While over 81% of prostate cancer cases and 60% of breast cancer cases are diagnosed before they spread, this is true for only 15% of lung cancer cases.2

Did you know?

Over the last 30 years, substantial investment has resulted in significant increases in survival of many diseases. For example:

Breast Cancer

US Government research funding: $750 million/year 2,3
Results: significant increase in 5-year survival rates: 4
– Early 1970s – 75%
– Today – 90%


US Government research funding: $3 billion/year 2
– AIDS was once a near-immediate death sentence
– Today – with anti-retroviral drug therapy, the 3-year survival rate is 90%.

Lung Cancer

US Government research funding: Only $267 million/year 2,3
Results: very little change in 5-year survival rates: 4
– Early 1970s – 12%
– Today – 16%

There is Hope

Over the last five years, there has been an explosion in the scientific understanding of the biology of lung cancer. This information is just beginning to be translated into new treatments for the disease, but we can only continue to make progress by ending the stigma and funding more research, including early screening and detection technologies. That’s what the Goodson Classic is all about! So far, together we have raised over $30,000 in the fight against lung cancer.

To find out the symptoms of lung cancer and more facts, plus ways in which you can help, please click on the infographic to the right, or visit the website of Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina.


  1. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2013. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2013.
  2. American Cancer Society, Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2009-2010. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2010
  3. Kohler, B, et al. Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2007, Featuring Tumors of the Brain & Other Nervous System. JNCI, 2011. doi:10.1093/jnci/djr077
  4. Fast Stats: An interactive tool for access to SEER cancer statistics. Surveillance Research Program, National Cancer Institute. (Accessed on 4-22-2011)
  5. Thun, MJ, et al. Lung Cancer Occurrence in Never-Smokers: An Analysis of 13 Cohorts and 22 Cancer Registry Studies. PLOS Medicine, 2008. 5(9): e185. Doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050185

Updated 7/13/2014