An epidemiological study suggests the incidence of stage I non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is on the rise in the United States.

This finding, published in JAMA Oncology, likely reflects an increase in lung cancer screening in recent years, according to researchers.

The researchers evaluated the incidence of NSCLC using the US Cancer Statistics database, which includes data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program and the National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR). The researchers also evaluated the incidence, prevalence, survival, and initial treatment of NSCLC using the SEER-18 database.

In the SEER-NPCR cohort, there were more than 1.5 million new lung cancer cases diagnosed from 2010 to 2017. About 1.28 million of these cases were NSCLC. The incidence of NSCLC decreased from 46.4 per 100,000 people in 2010 to 40.9 per 100,000 in 2017.

In the SEER-18 cohort, the incidence of NSCLC decreased from 43.6 to 37.5 cases per 100,000 from 2010 to 2017. The incidence of stage II, IIIA, and IIIB NSCLC remained stable over this time period. However, the incidence of stage IV NSCLC decreased from 21.7 to 19.6 per 100,000, and the incidence of stage I NSCLC increased from 10.8 to 13.2 per 100,000.

The proportion of patients with stage I NSCLC at diagnosis increased from 24% in 2010 to 29% in 2017, and the proportion of patients with stage IV NSCLC decreased from 48% to 44.1%

The prevalence of NSCLC increased from 175.3 to 198.3 per 100,000 people from 2010 to 2016.

In 2016, about 23% of all NSCLC patients had received no treatment, 49.5% had received single-modality treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation), and 27.7% had received multiple treatments. This distribution was similar in all the years the researchers assessed. The 1-year survival rate was 55.1%, and the 5-year survival rate was 26.4%.

“Increased overall prevalence of NSCLC and higher 5-year survival than reported previously may be associated with earlier detection of NSCLC and introduction of more effective treatments,” the researchers wrote.

Disclosures: This research was funded by AstraZeneca. Some study authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of disclosures. 


Ganti AK, Klein AB, Cotarla I, Seal B, Chou E. Update of incidence, prevalence, survival, and initial treatment in patients with non-small cell lung cancer in the US. JAMA Oncol. Published online October 21, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2021.4932