November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month

The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, along with cancer centers and other organizations nationwide, recognize November as Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Lung cancer is the second most common cancer among women and men, not including skin cancer. For women, breast cancer is more common while prostate cancer is the most common cancer for men.

Lung Cancer Facts and Figures

  • About 238,340 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in 2023.
  • About 127,070 deaths will result from lung cancer in 2023.
  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among both men and women.
  • Lung cancer is responsible for about 1 in 5 of all cancer deaths.
  • Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined.
  • The yearly number of lung cancer deaths is declining. The estimated number of deaths in 2022 was 130,180.
  • The chance that a man will develop lung cancer in his lifetime is about 1 in 16. A woman's lifetime chance of developing lung cancer is about 1 in 17.
  • Around 80% of lung cancer deaths are thought to be a result of smoking.

All data reported by the American Cancer Society (ACS).

“I look forward to the day when lung cancer is no longer the leading cause of cancer-related deaths,” said Dipesh Uprety, M.D., medical oncologist and member of the Thoracic Oncology and Phase 1 Clinical Trials Multidisicplinary Teams at Karmanos. “Encouraging friends and family to receive lung cancer screenings if they are eligible is important for us to decrease the number of deaths, and supporting our loved ones to quit smoking is another tool. Those two actions are crucial to lowering the risk of developing lung cancer and catching the disease early so that we have more treatment options.”

Lung Cancer Symptoms and Risk Factors

At very early stages, lung cancer may not exhibit symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include a cough that does not go away, coughing up blood, chest pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, shortness of breath, wheezing, or respiratory infections such as bronchitis, that reoccur or do not go away. When lung cancer spreads, it may cause bone pain, jaundice or swelling of the lymph nodes. Lung cancer may also spread to the brain, causing nervous system changes such as dizziness or balance problems, weakness or numbness in an arm or leg, headaches, or seizures.

The leading risk factor for lung cancer is smoking. Other risk factors include second-hand smoke, exposure to radon or other carcinogens. Some risk factors for lung cancer cannot be controlled. These include air pollution and family history.

Lung Cancer Screening

Screening for lung cancer is a multi-step process. It begins with an office visit to assess needs and risks. Eligible candidates will then undergo low-dose CT scans. These scans are more sensitive than x-rays and can detect abnormalities in the lungs. Scans are then read by a Karmanos radiologist.

Men and women ages 50-80 who are current smokers or who quit no more than 15 years ago, with at least a 20-pack-year smoking history should be screened for lung cancer. Lung cancer screening is covered by Medicare for patients 50-77 years old and most commercial insurance plans cover it for patients 55-80. Typically, there is no out-of-pocket cost for low-dose CT lung screening, but patients are encouraged to confirm with their health insurance provider. Lung cancer screenings also require a referral from your provider.

To learn more about lung cancer screening at Karmanos, visit For resources to quit smoking, click here.

Lung Cancer Treatment at Karmanos Cancer Institute

At Karmanos, lung cancer is treated by the Thoracic Oncology Multidisciplinary Team, which includes cardiothoracic surgeons; surgical, medical and radiation oncologists; radiologists, pathologists, pharmacists, dietitians, social workers and genetic counselors. The team is entirely focused on treating cancers of the chest and shares its collective expertise to create a customized treatment plan for each patient.

“We work closely together for the very best for our patients. That’s the benefit to choosing Karmanos for lung cancer treatment – each specialist on your cancer care team is up to speed on the progress of your disease and collaborates to bring you the best treatment plan options,” explained Dr. Uprety.

Our team of thoracic oncologists is among the best in the world. Team members are national leaders in chest malignancies and recognized experts in the treatment of thoracic cancers among national cooperative groups. The team has been involved in the development of recently approved novel drugs for the treatment of chest cancers and continues to be involved in clinical trials evaluating novel drugs.

For details about lung cancer screening and prevention services offered near you and other health-related information, click here or call 1-800-KARMANOS.