Blog: Decoding the Research

Lung cancer survivorship lags far behind other cancers

Published: March 28th, 2013

Lung cancer survivors represent only 3% of cancer survivors

The American Association for Cancer Research has released their annual report on cancer survivorship in the US, and the news for lung cancer patients is striking. Though overall numbers of cancer survivors are increasing, lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death with one of the lowest five-year survivor rates.

A team of researchers from the National Cancer Institute analyzed data from 1975–2007 obtained from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program and population projections from the United States Census Bureau. As of January 2012, approximately 13.7 million cancer survivors are in the US – only 400,000 (3%) are lung cancer survivors, compared to nearly 3 million breast cancer survivors and 2.8 million prostate cancer survivors.

Lung cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed form of cancer, and accounts for 160,000 deaths each year. There are fewer lung cancer survivors alive today than breast, prostate, colorectal, melanoma, corpus, bladder, thyroid, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma cancer survivors.

Total numbers of survivors are expected to rise by 31% to 18 million in the next 10 years. But, lung cancer survivor rates have remained stagnant since the 1970s. While 64% of cancer survivors have survived 5 years or more, only 15% of lung cancer survivors make it to 5 years. Without more research into better treatment, detection and prevention, lung cancer survivor rates will remain low and the numbers won’t improve.

Next week at the AACR Annual Meeting, Uniting Against Lung Cancer and many other partnering organizations will be marching in the Rally for Medical Research – a unified call to our nation’s policymakers to make life-saving medical research funding a national priority. We hope you will join us to make our message heard. Find out more at