What is the global prevalence of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)?

Updated: Jul 15, 2021
  • Author: Winston W Tan, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Nagla Abdel Karim, MD, PhD  more...
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Lung cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer worldwide, after breast cancer, and its incidence continues to grow. In 2020, an estimated 2.2 million new cases of lung cancer were diagnosed globally, accounting for approximately 11.4% of the global cancer burden. An estimated 1.8 million lung cancer deaths occurred in 2020. [23] Among all cancers, lung cancer is currently the most common cause of cancer deaths in most countries, with industrialized regions such as North America and Europe having the highest rates.

Several differences exist in lung cancer incidence according to geographic area. The highest incidence occurs in Polynesia (37.3 cases per 100,000 population per year). The lowest incidence rate is in western Africa (approximately 2.2 cases per 100,000 population per year). [23] With increased smoking in developing countries, the incidence is expected to increase in the next few years, notably in China and India.

Generally, global lung cancer trends have followed the trends in smoking, with a lag time of several decades. Lung cancer incidence has been declining in several countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, following the decreasing rate of smoking. Lung cancer incidence among women, however, continues to increase in several parts of the globe, although it has begun to plateau in the United States. Notably, despite a very low rate of smoking, Chinese females have a higher incidence of lung cancer than European females.

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