Lung cancer statistics

Cases

New cases of lung cancer, 2012, UK

Deaths

Deaths from lung cancer, 2012, UK

Survival

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

Prevention

Preventable cases of lung cancer, UK

  • There were around 44,500 new cases of lung cancer in the UK in 2012, that’s around 122 people every day.
  • Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the UK after breast cancer (2012).
  • Lung cancer accounts for 13% of all new cases in the UK (2012).
  • In men, lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the UK, with around 24,000 cases diagnosed in 2012.
  • In women, lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the UK, with around 20,500 cases diagnosed in 2012.
  • More than 4 in 10 (43%) cases of lung cancer are diagnosed in people aged 75 and over.
  • Rates of lung cancer in Scotland are among the highest in the world, reflecting the history of high smoking prevalence there.
  • Lung cancer incidence rates in men peaked in the late 1970s and since then have decreased by 45%. This reflects the decline in smoking rates in men since around the end of the 1940s.
  • Lung cancer incidence rates in women have increased by 64% since the late 1970s. This reflects the increase in smoking rates in women between World War II and the 1970s.
  • Most lung cancer cases are diagnosed at a late stage.
  • 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

  • Emergency presentation is the most common route to diagnosis of lung cancer.
  • ‘Two-week wait’ standards are met by all countries, ‘31-day wait’ is met by all but Northern Ireland, and ‘62-day wait’ is not met by any country for lung cancer.

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The latest statistics available for lung cancer in the UK are; incidence 2012, 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).

European Age-Standardised Rates were calculated using the 1976 European Standard Population (ESP) unless otherwise stated as calculated with ESP2013. ASRs calculated with ESP2013 are not comparable with ASRs calculated with ESP1976.

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.

Stage at diagnosis data is not yet routinely available for the UK due to inconsistencies in the collecting and recording of staging data in the past.

Meta-analyses Open a glossary item 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 Open a glossary item and cohort studies Open a glossary item are reported where such aggregated data are lacking.

Routes to diagnosis statistics were calculated from cases of cancer registered in England which were diagnosed in 2006-2010.

Cancer waiting times statistics are for patients who entered the health care system within financial year 2014-15. Lung cancer is part of the group 'Lung cancer' for cancer waiting times data. Codes vary per country but broadly include: trachea, bronchus and lung, thymus, heart, mediastinum and pleura, other and ill-defined sites of the respiratory system, mesothelioma, secondary cancers of the mediastinum, pleura or other and unspecified respiratory organs.

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Acknowledgements

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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