Lung cancer statistics


New cases of lung cancer, 2011, UK


Deaths from lung cancer, 2012, UK


Survive lung cancer for 10 or more years, 2010-11, England and Wales


Preventable cases of lung cancer, UK

  • Lung cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in the UK after breast cancer.
  • Around 43,500 people were diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK in 2011, that’s around 120 people every day.
  • Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in men after prostate cancer, with around 23,800 new cases diagnosed in the UK in 2011.
  • Around 19,700 women were diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK in 2011, making it the second most common cancer in women after breast cancer.
  • Almost 9 in 10 lung cancer cases occur in people aged 60 and over.
  • Rates of lung cancer in Scotland are among the highest in the world, reflecting the history of high smoking  prevalence there.
  • In 1975, for every 10 lung cancer cases diagnosed in women in the UK, there were around 39 in men. Now for every 4-10 cases in women there are around 12 in men.
  • Lung  cancer incidence rates in men peaked in the late 1970s and since then have decreased by around 48%. This reflects the decline in smoking rates in men since around the end of the 1940s.
  • From  the mid-1970s to late 1980s, lung cancer rates in women increased by around 45%, since then they have increased by around 19%. This reflects the increase in smoking rates in women between World War II and the 1970s.
  • In  Europe, more than 410,000 new cases of lung cancer were estimated to have been diagnosed in 2012. The UK incidence rate is seventh lowest in Europe for males and seventh highest for females.
  • Worldwide, nearly 1.83 million new cases of lung cancer were estimated to have been diagnosed in 2012, with incidence rates varying across the world.

Read more in-depth lung cancer incidence statistics

  • Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in the UK, accounting for more than 1 in 5 cancer deaths.
  • Around 35,400 people died from lung cancer in the UK in 2012, that’s 97 people every day.
  • Almost half of people who die from lung cancer are aged 75 or over.
  • Lung cancer mortality rates for men in the UK have more than halved since the 1970s. For females, the mortality rate increased by 60% between the early 1970s and the late 1980s. Since then, rates have increased more slowly. These variations reflect past smoking behaviour.
  • In Europe, nearly 354,000 people were estimated to have died from lung cancer in 2012. The UK mortality rate is 11th lowest in Europe for males and fifth highest for females.
  • Worldwide around 1.59 million people were estimated to have died from lung cancer in 2012, with mortality rates varying across the world.

Read more in-depth lung cancer mortality statistics

  • Survival for lung cancer is the second lowest out of 20 common cancers in England and Wales.
  • Unlike the majority of cancers, survival for lung cancer has not shown much improvement since the early 1970s.
  • Around a third of people diagnosed with lung cancer survive the disease for at least one year after diagnosis.
  • Overall, 5% of people diagnosed with lung cancer survive the disease for at least ten years after diagnosis.
  • Lung cancer has one of the lowest survival outcomes of any cancer because over two-thirds of patients are diagnosed at a late stage when curative treatment is not possible.
  • When diagnosed at its earliest stage, around 73% of patients with non small cell lung cancer and around 56% of patients with small cell lung cancer will survive their disease for at least one year after diagnosis.

Read more in-depth lung cancer survival statistics

  • 89% (91% in males and 87% in females) of lung cancer cases each year in the UK are linked to major lifestyle and other risk factors.
  • A person’s risk of developing lung cancer depends on many factors, including age,genetics, and exposure to risk factors (including some potentially avoidable lifestyle factors).
  • Smoking is the main avoidable risk factor for lung cancer, linked to an estimated 86% of lung cancer cases in the UK.
  • An estimated 89% of lung cancers in the UK are linked to lifestyle factors including smoking, certain occupational exposures (13%), and ionising radiation (5%).
  • Environmental tobacco smoke, ionising radiation, air pollution, and diesel engine exhaust cause lung cancer.
  • A diet high in fruit and vegetables may protect against lung cancer – insufficient fruit and vegetables intake is linked to an estimated 9% of lung cancer cases in the UK.

Read more in-depth lung cancer risk factors

The latest statistics available for lung cancer in the UK are; incidence 2011, mortality 2012 and survival 2010-2011. 

The ICD codes Open a glossary item for lung cancer are ICD-10 C33-C34 (which include the trachea, bronchus and lung).

Survival statistics give an overall picture of survival and (unless otherwise stated) include all adults (15-99) diagnosed, at all ages, stages Open a glossary item and co-morbidities Open a glossary item. The survival time experienced by an individual patient may be much higher or lower, depending on specific patient and tumour characteristics. If you are a patient, please see our patient information.

Survival by stage is not yet routinely available for the UK due to inconsistencies in the collecting and recording of staging data in the past. Survival by stage is available for the former Anglia Cancer Network in the east of England, however. The former Anglia Cancer Network covers around 5% of the population of England and may not be representative of the country as a whole due to differences in underlying demographic factors (such as age, deprivation or ethnicity), as well as variation in local healthcare provision standards and policies.

Meta-analyses and systematic reviews Open a glossary item are cited where available, as they provide the best overview of all available research and often take study quality into account. Individual case-control and cohort studies Open a glossary item are reported where such aggregated data are lacking.


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Credit us as authors by referencing Cancer Research UK as the primary source. Suggested styles are:

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We would like to acknowledge the essential work of the cancer registries in the United Kingdom and Ireland Association of Cancer Registries, without which there would be no data.

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