Basic Information About Lung CancerLung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death and the second most diagnosed cancer in both men and women in the United States.1 In 2008, 14% of all cancer diagnoses and 28% of all cancer deaths were due to lung cancer.1 After increasing for decades, lung cancer incidence and mortality among men and women are decreasing, paralleling decreases in cigarette smoking.2 3
Lung cancer begins in the lungs and may spread to lymph nodes or other organs in the body, such as the brain.4 Cancer from other organs may spread to the lungs. When cancer cells spread from one organ to another, they are called metastases.
Lung cancers usually are grouped into two main types called small cell and non-small cell.4 These types of lung cancer grow differently and are treated differently. Non-small cell lung cancer is more common than small cell lung cancer.
Cigarette smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer.5 Lung cancer also can be caused by using other types of tobacco (such as pipes or cigars), breathing secondhand smoke, being exposed to substances such as asbestos or radon at home or work, and having a family history of lung cancer.5
References1U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2008 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta (GA): Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Cancer Institute; 2012. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/uscs.
2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State-specific trends in lung cancer incidence and smoking—United States, 1999–2008. MMWR 2011;60(36):1243–1247.
3Jemal A, Thun MJ, Ries LA, Howe HL, Weir HK, Center MM, Ward E, Wu XC, Eheman C, Anderson R, Ajani UA, Kohler B, Edwards BK. Annual report to the nation on the status of cancer, 1975–2005, featuring trends in lung cancer, tobacco use, and tobacco control. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2008;100(23):1672–1694.
4Johnson DH, Blot WJ, Carbone DP, et al. Cancer of the lung: non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. In: Abeloff MD, Armitage JO, Niederhuber JE, Kastan MB, McKena WG. Clinical Oncology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2008.
5Alberg AJ, Ford FG, Samet JM. Epidemiology of lung cancer: ACCP evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (2nd edition). Chest 2007;132(3 Suppl):29S–55S.