The Facts About Women and Lung Cancer

  • In the United States, an average of 181 women die each day of lung cancer, one every 8 minutes.1
  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among women. It is also the leading cause of cancer deaths in men.2
  • In 2019, an estimated 66,020 women will die of lung cancer, 23% of all cancer deaths in women.3
  • Of the men and women with lung cancer, 17.9% are never smokers.4
  • Lung cancer in male and female never-smokers is the sixth leading cause of all cancer deaths.5
  • Approximately two-thirds of never smokers diagnosed with lung cancer are women.6
  • Women who are never smokers are more than twice as likely to get lung cancer as men who are never smokers.7
  • Recent studies indicate that the rate of never-smoking lung cancer is increasing.8
  • The five-year survival rate for women with lung cancer remains low at 22%.9
  • Despite a higher number of annual deaths, lung cancer receives only $2,488 per death in research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the least funded of the major cancers affecting women.10

LCA WLC fact sheet 2019

Click here to download the full Women & Lung Cancer Fact Sheet.


  1. Estimated from American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2019. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2019.
  2.  American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2019. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2019.
  3. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2019. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2019.
  4. Centers for Disease Control, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, “Cigarette Smoking Among Adults — United States, 2006”.  November 9, 2007 / 56(44);1157-1161.
  5. Estimated from: Centers for Disease Control, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, “Cigarette Smoking Among Adults — United States, 2006”.  November 9, 2007 / 56(44);1157-1161
  6. Estimated from the following sources: Clément-Duchêne C, Stock S, Xu X, et al. Survival among Never-Smokers with Lung Cancer in the Cancer Care Outcomes Research and Surveillance Study. Annals of the American Thoracic Society. 2016;13(1):58-66.  Lorraine Pelosof, Chul Ahn, Ang Gao, Leora Horn, Alejandra Madrigales, Joan Cox, Dauphne McGavic, John D. Minna, Adi F. Gazdar, Joan Schiller; Proportion of Never-Smoker Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer Patients at Three Diverse Institutions. JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2017;109(7).
  7. Sun S, Schiller JH, Gazdar AF. Lung cancer in never smokers–a different disease. Nat Rev Cancer. 2007 Oct;7(10):778-90. Wakelee HA, Chang ET, Gomez SL, Keegan TH, Feskanich D, Clarke CA, Holmberg L, Yong LC, Kolonel LN, Gould MK, West DW. Lung cancer incidence in never smokers. J Clin Oncol. 2007 Feb 10;25(5):472-8.
  8. Pelosof L, Ahn C, Gao A, Horn L, Madrigales A, Cox J, McGavic D, Minna JD, Gazdar AF, Schiller J. Proportion of Never-Smoker Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Patients at Three Diverse Institutions. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2017 Jan 28;109(7). Cufari ME, Proli C, De Sousa P, Raubenheimer H, Al Sahaf M, Chavan H, Shedden L, Niwaz Z, Leung M, Nicholson AG, Anikin V, Beddow E, McGonigle N, Dusmet ME, Jordan S, Ladas G, Lim E. Increasing frequency of non-smoking lung cancer: Presentation of patients with early disease to a tertiary institution in the UK. Eur J Cancer. 2017 Oct; 84:55-59.
  9. Noone AM, Howlader N, Krapcho M, et al. (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2015, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, www.seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2015/, based on November 2017 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER website April 2018.
  10. National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Estimates of Funding for Various Research, Condition, and Disease Categories (RCDC).” https://report.nih.gov/categorical_spending.aspx. Published May 18, 2018.