Revised 15 March 2013
Lung cancer which includes tumours of the bronchus, trachea and lung, is the second most common cancer diagnosed in British Columbia and also in Canada, for both men and women (National Cancer Institute of Canada, 2012). It accounts for about 12% and 13% of all cancer diagnoses in BC for males and females respectively. Among women, the incidence rate of lung cancer is stabilizing after a period of rapid increase, while in men, the rate peaked in the mid-1980s and has since consistently declined as indicated on the figure below.
Age Standardized Incidence Rates for Lung Cancer by sex from 1970-2010
Age Standardized Incidence Rates per 100,000 for Lung Case in 2000, 2005, 2010
Overall, lung cancer causes about 25.5% of all cancer deaths in British Columbia. This death toll is greater than that attributed to colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer (the second through fourth leading causes of cancer mortality) combined.
Age Standardized Mortality Rates for Lung Cancer by sex from 1970-2010
Age Standardized Mortality Rates per 100,000 for Lung Cancer in 2000, 2005, 2010
In 2010, the last year for which data are complete, there were 1,447 cases of lung cancer diagnosed in men, and 1,155 lung cancer deaths recorded. Among women there were 1,357 new cases diagnosed, and 1,098 deaths recorded. Approximately 52% of the diagnoses were among males and 48% among females, but this ratio is rapidly changing as the incidence among women is growing.
Incident Lung Cancer Cases 1985-2010 with Projection to 2025
Incident Lung Cancer Cases 2000-2025
In 2010, about 88.5% of the new cases were diagnosed with non small cell cancers; the remainder was diagnosed with small cell carcinoma.
Non Small Cell Carcinoma Diagnoses in 2010
Non small cell carcinoma
Small cell carcinoma *
* Small cell carcinoma includes ICD-O 80413 small cell carcinoma nos, 80423 oat cell carcinoma, 80433 small cell carcinoma fusiform cell, 80443 small cell carcinoma intermediate cell, 80453 combined small cell carcinoma.
In BC during the last ten years (2000-2010) three quarters of diagnosed lung cancer patients were 78 years old and older, and half were 71 years and older at diagnosis. The mean age at diagnosis was 70 years.
Age distribution is presented on the histogram below:
The estimated probability of surviving up to 1, 3, 5 and 7 years after diagnosis with lung cancer are shown in the table below:
Years After Diagnosis
Lung Cancer (only)
Overall Survival (all causes)
The trends in 1-, 3- and 5-year Relative Survival for Lung Cancer Patients in BC are shown in the figure below.
The plot below indicates that the vast majority of patients diagnosed with Lung Cancer died from this cancer; few died from other cancers or non-cancer causes. The median lung cancer specific survival is about 8.5 months. The median overall survival for these patients is 7 months.
Source: CAIS Patient Information
Date Retrieved: 5 March 2013
Prepared by: Cancer Surveillance and Outcomes
Date Prepared: 6 March 2013