Health libraryBack to health library
10 facts you should know about lung cancer
Nov. 9, 2019—Lung cancer is the most common cancer worldwide. But how much do you really know about it? Expand your knowledge with these 10 facts. Some are sobering, others surprising. And some may help you survive this cancer if you ever face it.
- Lung cancer is the No. 1 cancer killer for both men and women in the U.S.
- Each year more Americans die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined.
- Smoking is to blame for more than 8 out of 10 lung cancer deaths. The longer you smoke—and the more packs a day—the greater your risk.
- Cigar and pipe smoking are almost as likely to cause lung cancer as cigarette smoking.
- Exposure to secondhand smoke, radon and asbestos all raise lung cancer risk. Air pollution, particularly near heavily trafficked roads, also seems to slightly increase risk.
- A new cough that doesn't go away—or gets worse—is a possible sign of lung cancer. Other red flags include coughing up blood, shortness of breath, a hoarse voice and wheezing. But a harsh truth about lung cancer is that it usually doesn't cause symptoms until it's advanced.
- About 9 out of 10 people with lung cancer die from it, because it's usually found after it has spread.
- Screening people at high risk for lung cancer with low-dose CT scans can help find lung cancer early, when it is more treatable. Annual screenings have been shown to lower the risk of dying from lung cancer for this group.
- If everyone eligible for lung cancer screening got tested, an estimated 12,000 lung cancer deaths could be prevented every year.
- Lung cancer screening is never a substitute for quitting smoking.