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Understanding Lung Cancer

After being told you have lung cancer, you may wonder what that means for your future and your health. You may hear stories about other people with lung cancer and wonder if you will experience the same thing. While everyone has their own experiences, remember that your journey is unique to you.

You are not alone in this. There are resources available to provide support to you as you navigate your diagnosis and treatment. While these resources may feel overwhelming at first, you can start learning more at your own pace with this website.

In this section, we will start with the basics about lung cancer, including how common it is and who may be diagnosed.

Lung cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States

Infographic 1 in 16 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime

1 in 16

People will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime

Anyone can get lung cancer

  • Nearly 65% of all new lung cancer cases are among people who have never smoked or who used to smoke
  • Around 12% of new lung cancer cases are in those who have never smoked
  • The majority of people living with lung cancer are over 60 years old, but younger people can be diagnosed with lung cancer, too
  • Approximately 13% of people living with lung cancer are under 50 years old

People from all backgrounds can be diagnosed

Lung cancer impacts people of all ages, genders, races, and ethnicities.

Your type of lung cancer will inform your care plan

There are different types of lung cancer. Your specific type of lung cancer can determine what testing and treatments may be right for you.

To learn more about the different types of lung cancer, continue on to the next section, Understanding Your Type of Lung Cancer.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I connect with other people diagnosed with non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)?

Visit our NSCLC Stories or Communities pages to connect with other people who have gone through or who are currently going through an NSCLC diagnosis and treatment.

What are my treatment options?

Chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, targeted therapies, and immunotherapy are the main treatment options for NSCLC. However, a number of factors can affect which treatments will be best for you. Factors that can affect treatment include your cancer’s particular type and stage, as well as unique changes to your cancer cells, called biomarkers. Investigational or new treatment combinations may also be available through clinical trials. You and your doctor should discuss whether clinical trials are an option for you.

Should I get a second opinion about my diagnosis?

It is your right to request a second opinion if you choose to do so. Doctors are usually happy to help you arrange a second opinion. Doctors may even recommend it when the treatment approach for your cancer is not clear. Speaking with another doctor may help you to better understand your treatment options and feel more confident in your choice.

Next Steps

  • Ask your health care team about your type and stage of lung cancer
  • Ask your health care team if there are resources to learn more about your type and stage of lung cancer
  • Discuss treatment options with your health care team

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  • Non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)

    The most common form of lung cancer, which is described by the way the cancer cells look under a microscope (not small).

  • Targeted Therapy

    A treatment that targets the driver mutations that cause cancer growth.