Lung cancer in Canada

Lung cancer develops in the cells of the lungs. Changes in these cells may lead to benign tumours (non-cancerous), but when cells no longer behave normally, they may cause malignant tumours (cancer). Cancer starting in the lung cells is known as primary lung cancer. Cancers that start in other parts of the body can spread to the lungs (lung metastasis), but they are not treated in the same way as primary lung cancers.

The data

  • Lung cancer is the most common cancer in Canada
  • 1 in 14 men will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime
  • 1 in 15 women will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime
  • About 29,300 Canadians will be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2019
  • 98% of lung cancers occur in adults aged 50+

Risk factors and prevention

  • Smoking
  • Exposure to second-hand smoke
  • Exposure to radon gas
  • Exposure to asbestos and other carcinogens
  • Air pollution
  • Family history
  • Age
  • Being smoke-free and testing for radon at home can help lower the risk of getting lung cancer

Screening and detection

  • 50% of all lung cancer cases are diagnosed late AT STAGE IV *
  • 19% of Canadians diagnosed with lung cancer survive 5 or more years

Screening for lung cancer is only recommended for high risk Canadians aged 55 to 74.

Screening guidelines are available from the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care.

For more facts about lung cancer visit: and Search: lung cancer

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Data Sources: Canadian Cancer Statistics 2019; Statistics Canada, Canadian Cancer Registry CANSIM Table 103-0554; Canadian Partnership Against Cancer - 2017 Cancer System Performance Report.

* Cancer stage distribution is based on eight provinces and does not include Quebec or Ontario.

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Health, 2019 | Cat.: HP35-83/3-2019E-PDF | ISBN: 978-0-660-31892-9 | Pub.: 190220



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Organization: Public Health Agency of Canada

Published: 2019-XX-XX

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