Lung Cancer


In 2015, an estimated 26,600 Canadians will be diagnosed with lung cancer and 20,900 will die of it. Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women.
  • An estimated 13,400 women will be diagnosed with lung cancer and 10,000 will die of it.
  • An estimated 13,600 men will be diagnosed with lung cancer and 10,900 will die of it.
  • On average 510 Canadians will be diagnosed with lung cancer every week.
  • On average, 400 Canadians will die of lung cancer every week.

Probability of developing or dying from lung cancer

  • 1 in 12 men is expected to develop lung cancer during his lifetime and 1 in 13 will die of it.
  • 1 in 15 women is expected to develop lung cancer during her lifetime and 1 in 17 is expected to die of it.

(Canadian Cancer Statistics 2015)

Did You Know?

  • In 2015, it was estimated that 26,600 Canadians would be diagnosed with lung cancer - more than any other type of cancer.
  • More people die from lung cancer than breast cancer, colorectal cancer and prostate cancer combined.
  • 1 in 12 Canadians will develop lung cancer during his/her lifetime.
  • Smoking causes most lung cancers. However, about half of patients who are diagnosed have either never smoked (15%) or are former smokers (35%).
  • Most lung cancers are diagnosed in late stages, due in part to lack of effective screening procedures.
  • Lung cancer patients and their family members are often stigmatized by a widespread prejudice about smoking, and many feel isolated and hesitant to tell others about their diagnosis.
  • Lung cancer receives little public or media attention. This is due, in part, to a small community of survivors to bring a voice and attention to lung cancer issues.


General Information

45,000 Canadians die from smoking related deaths each year. This is the same as one in every five deaths in Canada. For long-time smokers, the chance of dying from a smoking-related cause is, on average, 1 in 2. About half of all smoking-related deaths occur before the age of 70. Those who die before the age of 70 lose an average of 22 years of life expectancy. Those who die after the age of 70 lose an average of 8 years of life expectancy.

Smoking and Cancer

  1. Smoking is the single most preventable cause of cancer
  2. Smoking is responsible for about 30% of all cancer deaths
  3. Smoking is known to cause or increase one’s risk of developing:
    • Lung Cancer
    • Cancer of the Mouth, Throat (Pharynx), Voice Box (Larynx), and Esophagus
    • Leukemia, Bladder Cancer, Stomach Cancer, Kidney Cancer
    • Pancreatic Cancer, Cervical Cancer
    • 85% of all lung cancers are caused by smoking. The risk of lung cancer increases the more you smoke and the longer you smoke. However, there is little known about how much, or for how long, one needs to smoke in order to increase one’s risk of lung cancer. The risk of lung cancer in pipe and cigar smokers is approximately double that of non-smokers. 1 in 10 lifelong smokers will develop the disease.
Smoking increases lung cancer risk by
  • Causing genetic changes in the cells of the lungs
  • Damaging the lungs’ normal cleaning process by which they get rid of foreign and harmful particles
  • Lodging cancer-causing particles in the mucus and developing into cancer tumours

Why Quit? Quitting smoking reduces the risk of lung cancer

The risk among long-term ex-smokers (i.e. at least 20 years since quitting) is close to the risk of life-long non-smokers. Five years after quitting smoking, the risk of developing lung cancer is 30-60% lower. Research has shown that women are more vulnerable to lung damage from tobacco than men. Although more men are diagnosed with lung cancer than women, the incidence in men is declining. The incidence for women is increasing. This is likely due to the differences in smoking rates between men and women.

For those already diagnosed with lung cancer
Lung cancer patients who quit smoking have fewer complications after surgery.
  • Quitting smoking can improve responses to all forms of cancer therapy
  • Quitting smoking after cancer therapy has been associated with a significantly decreased risk of another primary tumour in the lung
  • Quitting smoking can help to improve breathing

Caregivers of Lung Cancer Patients
Quitting smoking is an important show of support, especially if the patient is attempting to quit.