Lung cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women in the United States and the leading cause of all cancer deaths. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer.1
What is Lung Cancer?
Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cancerous cells originating in the lungs.1
In 2018, about 234,000 Americans are estimated to be diagnosed with lung cancer, and approximately 154,000 are projected to die from the disease.1,2
It is estimated that nearly 60 percent of lung cancer diagnoses are made when the disease is in the advanced stages.3
What are the Types of Lung Cancer?
Lung cancer is divided into two major types, small-cell (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). NSCLC is the more common type and accounts for about 80 to 85 percent of lung cancer cases.1
What are the Symptoms of Lung Cancer?
The early stages of lung cancer do not typically cause symptoms.1
In later stages, lung cancer symptoms include:1
Sputum streaked with blood
Weight loss and loss of appetite
Recurrent pneumonia or bronchitis
Shortness of breath
Feeling tired or weak
New onset of wheezing
What Causes Lung Cancer?
Many cases of lung cancer can be linked to smoking, but other known risk factors for the disease include:1
Exposure to radon or asbestos
Family history of lung cancer
Approximately 10 percent of lung cancer cases occur in non-smokers.4
Who Gets Lung Cancer?
Lung cancer is more prevalent in people over the age of 65, but younger people may be at risk due to genetic factors.1
The chance that a man will develop lung cancer in his lifetime is about 1 in 15, and about 1 in 17 for women.1
There are also differences in lung cancer incidence based on ethnicity. African-American men are about 20 percent more likely to develop lung cancer than white men.1
More than 30,000 Americans living with lung cancer have never smoked.11
What is the Prognosis for People with Lung
If lung cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, individuals are three times as likely to live five years compared to a late-stage diagnosis.2
If lung cancer spreads to other organs, five-year survival declines to less than five percent.3
What is the Role of Biomarkers in Lung Cancer?
Certain molecular characteristics, or biomarkers, have been identified that can be detected by diagnostic tests to help guide treatment decisions. These biomarkers include, but are not limited to, mutations in the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR), which are found in 10-15 percent of NSCLC tumors, and Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase (ALK) fusion genes, which are found in approximately 3-5 percent of NSCLC tumors. In addition, many people have lung cancer with known protein biomarkers, such as PD-L1. 1,5,6,7,8,12
How is NSCLC Treated?
People diagnosed with NSCLC should have their tumor tested to determine which treatment option is appropriate for them.9,10
Standard treatments for NSCLC may include the following:1,2
5 Pao W, Miller VA. Epidermal growth factor receptor mutations, small-molecule kinase inhibitors, and non-small-cell lung cancer: current knowledge and future directions. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2005;23(11):2556-68.
10 Keedy V, Termin S, Somerfield M, et al. American Society of Clinical Oncology Provisional Clinical Opinion: Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) Mutation Testing for Patients With Advanced Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer Considering First-Line EGFR Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor Therapy. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2011;29(15):2121-2127.