Dr. Jared Weiss, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, discusses the demographics and epidemiology of lung cancer.
I’m going to speak to you today about lung cancer demographics.
Lung cancer is just behind heart disease for the leading cause of death amongst Americans.
Within cancer, lung cancer causes the overwhelming majority of the death.
For both men and women, lung cancer is the second most incident cancer.
However because of that highly deadly nature of lung cancer we talked about,
it actually drives the highest death rate in both men and in women.
Lung cancer can affect anyone: only 44% of our patients are current smokers, about the similar number have previously smoked and quit, and 10-15% are never smokers. However, given how deadly lung cancer is, this drives nonsmoking lung cancer to be one of the greatest causes of suffering and death amongst cancers.
So just to put this into perspective, I have five month old twin daughters. They will never smoke a day in their lives because they will know that I will kill them if they do. Assuming that’s true, that they never smoke a day in their lives, my daughters are far more likely to die of nonsmoking lung cancer than they are to die of breast cancer.
Lung cancer can also affect anyone regardless of age. You can see here the spread of lung cancer — you can see that the bulk of presentation is at an older age, our median age of presentation is about 71 years, but you can see if you look at the left side of this table that it actually does have real incidence in younger patients. I have treated 20 and 30 year old patients for lung cancer. It is unfortunately quite real. I thank you for your kind attention.