Lung Cancer Overview

EvergreenHealth and the Halvorson Cancer Center are helping lead the way in the treatment of the deadliest form of cancer in United States: lung cancer.

Each year, more Americans die of lung cancer than of breast, colorectal, ovarian and prostate cancers combined.

Lung cancer is responsible for one out of every four cancer deaths in America.

Who’s at Risk for Lung Cancer?


More than 85 percent of lung cancers are related to tobacco, either by smoking or breathing secondhand smoke.

That risk increases with the length of time and number of cigarettes you’ve smoked.

That's why lung cancer occurs most frequently among people over 50 who have smoked for many years.

Former Smokers

Nearly 60 percent of lung cancers are diagnosed in people who have already stopped smoking.


About 18 percent of people who develop lung cancer have never smoked.

As with many cancers, the cause is unknown.

Survival Rates for Lung Cancer

One reason why lung cancer is so deadly is that it's hard to detect in its early stages.

It may take years for lung cancer to grow, and there are usually no symptoms early on.

By the time there are symptoms, the cancer has often spread to other parts of the body.

More than half of people with lung cancer die within one year of being diagnosed. The five-year survival rate in only 5 percent.

But the five-year survival rate climbs to 56 percent when lung cancer is caught early, and is still localized within the lungs, according to the American Lung Association.

That's why the importance of early detection is so critical; by finding the disease at an earlier stage, it is more likely to be curable.

And survival rates are on the rise, with better early detection and advanced treatments that weren't available even a few years ago.

The American Cancer Society notes that death rates have declined consistently for the past two decades - about 3 percent for men, and 2 percent for women.