Lung cancer was a rare disease in the early 1900s but is now the most common worldwide cause of cancer death. Fortunately, the causes of this epidemic of lung cancer have largely been characterized, and this knowledge has opened up pathways for preventive strategies. The vast majority of the lung cancer burden is due to environmental exposures; foremost among these is cigarette smoking.

Descriptive Epidemiology

Lung cancer risk increases with age. It occurs much more commonly in men than in women and in African Americans compared with other racial/ethnic groups. Due to historical cigarette smoking patterns, the epidemic of lung cancer started later in women than men, so that in the United States, lung cancer incidence and mortality rates have been steadily declining among men for many ...

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