Everything You Need to Know About Lung Cancer

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Samantha Miller, MBChB

Photo Courtesy: [Tinpixels/E+/Getty Images]

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the United States and is the foremost cause of cancer-related deaths, resulting in an estimated 235,000 new diagnoses and 131,000 deaths in 2021. Most cases of lung cancer are associated with smoking; however, non-smokers can also develop the disease. This type of cancer is also the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., accounting for 25% of all deaths due to cancer — more than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined.

Lung cancer occurs most often in older people and occurs more frequently in men than women. Over 70% of cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking, and smoking remains the single biggest risk factor for developing the disease. The number of new diagnoses of lung cancer continues to decrease, which is largely attributable to the decrease in smoking.

Because lung cancer has such prominent effects on the overall health of the country, it’s important to understand the basics of this condition, including the ways it manifests and how doctors diagnose and treat it.