1 Lung Cancer Epidemiology
This chapter discusses the epidemiology of lung cancer both globally and in the United States including the number of new diagnoses and expected deaths from lung cancer in 2017. A cost analysis of the impact of cancer and lung cancer in particular on society is also addressed.
Keywords: lung cancer, epidemiology, new diagnoses, new deaths, age-adjusted death rates, LIVESTRONG, global impact, economic loss
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women, not only in the United States, but also worldwide. Lung cancer alone accounts for about 27% of all cancer deaths in the United States. Each year, in the United States, lung cancer claims the lives of more men and women than all of the cancers of the breast, prostate, colorectum, kidney, and melanoma combined.
Worldwide in 2012, the latest year for which global statistics are available, new cases of lung cancer were diagnosed in more than 1.8 million men and women, comprising 13% of all new cancer diagnoses ( Fig. 1.1). More than 1.6 million men and women died of this disease. That is, lung cancer was responsible for 19% of all cancer-related deaths in the world ( Fig. 1.2).
In the United States, the American Cancer Society estimates that in 2017, over 222,500 new diagnoses of lung cancer will be made. This includes about 116,990 American men and 105,510 American women. The American Cancer Society further estimates that in 2017, about 155,870 Americans will die from lung cancer, including roughly 84,590 men and 71,280 women.
The age-adjusted death rate for lung cancer is higher for men (51.7 per 100,000 persons) than for women (34.7 per 100,000 persons). It is similar for African Americans (45.7 per 100,000 persons) and Caucasians (45.4 per 100,000 persons). However, African American men have a far higher age-adjusted lung cancer death rate than Caucasian men, while African American and Caucasian women have similar rates.
To put these statistics into perspective, realize that one new diagnosis of lung cancer is made EVERY 2.5 minutes, and that one person dies from lung cancer EVERY 3 minutes in the United States alone.
1.2 Cost Analysis and Impact on Society
Cancer is the world’s leading cause of death, followed by heart disease and stroke. The American Cancer Society and LIVESTRONG conducted a landmark study assessing the economic cost of all causes of death globally. Their results showed that cancer has the greatest and most devastating economic impact from premature death and disability of any cause of death in the world.
Globally, in 2008, the latest year for which worldwide statistics are available, the total economic impact of premature death, disability, and lost years of life and productivity from cancer worldwide was $895 billion. This dollar amount represents 1.5% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). Deaths and disability from lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and breast cancer account for the largest economic costs globally. More specifically, the global economic impact of lung cancer is $188 billion dollars, colorectal cancer $99 billion, and breast cancer $88 billion. The economic toll from cancer is nearly 19% higher than heart disease, the second leading cause ($753 billion). It should be emphasized that this particular analysis did not include direct medical costs, which would further increase the total economic cost of cancer compared to other causes of death. Much of this economic loss stems from the fact that cigarette smokers die on average 15 years earlier than nonsmokers. It is estimated that if the current trend continues, tobacco will be responsible for the death of 7 million persons annually by 2020 and 8 million persons by 2030. Eighty percent of these deaths will occur in low- to middle-income countries and one-third of these deaths will be from cancer.