Lung Cancer

More than 350,000 people alive today have been diagnosed.


Lung cancer mostly appears in older people. Statistically, 2 out of 3 people 65 and older are diagnosed with lung cancer. In people younger than 45, less than 2% of cases exist. 71 is the average age of diagnosis. African American men are 40% more likely to develop lung cancer than White American men. Same with African American women compared to White American women. Women generally have lower rates than men, but times are changing. The rate of lung cancer is men has been dropping over the past two decades and raise in women.

American Cancer Society's estimates for lung cancer in the United States; 2013:

  • About 228,190 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed (118,080 in men and 110,110 in women).
  • There will be an estimated 159,480 deaths from lung cancer (87,260 in men and 72,220 among women), accounting for about 27% of all cancer deaths.

Who is at risk?

For men, the chance of developing lung cancer in his lifetime is 1 in 13. For women, the chance is 1 in 16. These ratios are for both smokers and non-smokers; although the risk is increased for cigarette smokers compared to non-cigarette smokers who have a lower risk.

What causes lung cancer?

Lung cancer is named for the place in which it starts; the lung, when cells begin to grow abnormally and replicate. This creates a mass of cells called a tumor. This tumor can either be benign, noncancerous, or malignant, cancerous. A malignant tumor has the possibility to spread to other areas of the body.

Malignant tumors may or may not spread cancer cells. The cells must first enter into the bloodstream where they are subject to attack by the immune system, could die by bumping into the vessels walls, or simply fail to lodge. Lymph is a fluid that surrounds the lung tissue. It is the most likely carrier of the cancerous lung cells. Lymph flows into lymph nodes, organs that help fight infection. Lymph nodes are located throughout the body, making lung cancer easily susceptible to metastasis.

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Adriana Narverud, Seraphina Loukas, Jessica Ellithorpe