Lung Cancer Toolkit

Lung cancer is not a single disease; rather, it is a group of cancers that originate in the lung and associated tissues. There are several classifications of lung cancer. On a practical basis, lung cancers are clinically divided into two major types, small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Lung cancer is the leading cause of preventable and premature cancer deaths in the United States and Indiana, killing and estimated 150,000 Americans and approximately 3,800 Indiana residents every year.1 If all tobacco smoking were stopped, the occurrence of lung cancer would decrease by an estimated 90 percent;1 however, in Indiana, 24 percent of adults continue to smoke tobacco, placing them at great risk for developing lung and other types of cancer.2

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Who gets Lung Cancer Most Often?

  • Smokers. Lung cancer mortality rates are about 23 times higher for current male smokers and 13 times higher for current female smokers compared to people who have never smoked.3 Over 1 million adults in Indiana still smoke and Indiana’s adult smoking rate remains among the highest in the nation (median adult smoking rate in the United States: 19.6 percent in 2012).2
  • Those exposed to secondhand smoke. Each year, an estimated 50,000 American and 1,240 Hoosier nonsmokers die from exposure to secondhand smoke (smoke breathed in involuntarily by someone who is not smoking).3
  • Those exposed to other cancer-causing agents. Exposure to asbestos, radon, arsenic, talc, vinyl chloride, coal products, and radioactive ores like uranium can increase people’s risk for developing lung cancer, especially if they also smoke tobacco.
  • Males, especially African American males.4 During 2007-2011, Indiana males, compared to females, had a 50 percent greater lung cancer incidence rate and a 70 percent greater mortality rate. This is mainly because a higher percentage of males have been smokers compared to females. In 2012, 26.5 percent of adult males and 21.6 percent of adult females reported being current smokers.  African American males, in Indiana, have approximately 16 percent greater incidence and 20 percent greater lung cancer mortality rates than do white males.


Common Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer

Common symptoms include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Persistent cough
  • Sputum streaked with blood
  • Chest pain
  • Voice changes
  • Recurrent pneumonia or bronchitis

Early Detection

Early detection has not been shown to be effective in reducing mortality from lung cancer. Although recent advancements in diagnostic testing, such as low dose spiral computed tomography (spinal CT) scans and molecular markers in sputum, have shown more promising outcomes and are being evaluated further for possible risks and their effectiveness.


Behaviors can have a direct impact on preventing lung cancer. Individuals can:

  • Be smoke free. Quitting tobacco smoking substantially decreases your risk of developing cancer and cardiovascular disease. Smokers who quit smoking, regardless of age, live longer than people who continue to smoke.
  • Avoid all secondhand smoke exposure.
  • Visit Indiana’s Quitline at, or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669), for free, evidence-based assistance to help quit smoking.

Communities can also help prevent lung cancer by:

  • Implementing smoke-free air policies and higher taxes on tobacco products.
  • Sustaining tobacco control program funding to help reduce smoking rates and lessen the burden of tobacco use on Indiana – annually, tobacco use costs Indiana over $2 billion in health care costs, including approximately $487 million in Medicaid payments alone.
  • Supporting the continued adoption of smoke-free workplaces – the U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that smoke-free workplace policies are the only effective way to eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace and lead to less smoking among workers.
  • Supporting health care provider outreach efforts that help decrease tobacco consumption and increase quit attempts.


Additional Resources:


  1. Indiana Cancer Consortium, Indiana State Department of Health and the American Cancer Society Great Lakes Division; Indiana Cancer Facts and Figures 2012. March, 2012. Available at Updated cancer statistics are available online from the Indiana State Cancer Registry Statistics Report Generator at
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, 2012.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Smoking and Tobacco Fact Sheet. Accessed at on September 30, 2013.
  4. Indiana State Cancer Registry Statistics Report Generator. Accessed online at on September 30, 2013.
  5. National Cancer Institute, Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results. SEER Stat Fact Sheets: Lung and Bronchus. Accessed online at on September 30, 2013.
  6. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2013. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2013.