Lung Cancer Trends Brief: Additional Measures

This page lists additional lung cancer data figures, including hospitalizations, histology, biomarkers, staging, survival, screening, causes, and cost.

Hospitalizations

  • In 2020, the rate of hospitalizations for respiratory cancers was 31.4 per 100,000.
  • Due to a change in diagnosis codes, rates from 2015 and before are not comparable to those from 2016 and later.
  • From 1993 to 2015, the lung cancer hospitalization rate decreased by 0.8 points per year.
  • From 2016 to 2020, the respiratory cancers hospitalization rate decreased by 1.5 points per year.

Histology

  • In 2016-2020, most (85%) lung cancer cases were non-small cell.
  • Of these non-small cell cases, over half (57%) were adenocarcinoma.

Biomakers

Staging

  • In 2013-2019, most (48%) lung cancer cases were not diagnosed until the tumor had already spread to other parts of the body (distant stage).
  • Only 23% of cases were diagnosed at an early stage when the tumor was still limited to the lungs (localized stage).
  • The percent of people still alive 5 years after diagnoses, or the 5-year survival rate, was only 8% for those diagnosed at the distant stage, compared to 63% for those diagnosed at the localized stage.
  • Survival is higher for cases diagnosed early because treatment is more likely to be curative.

Survival

  • The percent of people still alive 5 years after being diagnosed with lung cancer, or the 5-year survival rate, was 25.4% in 2013-2019.
  • The lung cancer 5-year survival rate increased steadily from 1984-1986 to 2002-2004, and since then has increased at a faster rate.

Screening

  • In 2021, 5.8% of those at high risk for were screened for lung cancer using a low-dose computed tomography (CT) scan. High risk is defined as:
    • 50-80 years of age;
    • Have a 20 pack-year history of smoking (this means 1 pack a day for 20 years, 2 packs a day for 10 years, etc.);
    • AND, are a current smoker, or have quit within the last 15 years.
  • Screening those at high risk for lung cancer with low-dose CT scans can reduce the lung cancer mortality rate by around 20% and was recommended by the United States Preventative Services Task Force in 2014.
  • Based on new research, in March 2021, the United States Preventive Services Task Force expanded its recommendation for screening to include a larger age range and more current and former smokers.
  • Screening increased every year from 2015 to 2019 but remained flat in 2020 presumably due to the COVID-19 pandemic limiting access to medical care. It increased again in 2021, somewhat making up the progress lost in the prior year.

Learn more about the screening rate in your state in our State of Lung Cancer report here.

Causes

  • The majority of lung cancer cases are caused by cigarette smoking.
  • Other causes include exposure to radon, occupational carcinogens, and outdoor air pollution.

Cost

  • In 2020, lung cancer care accounted for $23.8 billion in expenditures.
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