In 2008, lung cancer replaced liver cancer as the number one cause of death among people with malignant tumors in China. The registered lung cancer mortality rate increased by 464.84% in the past 3 decades, which imposes an enormous burden on patients, health-care professionals, and society. We performed a systematic review of the published data on lung cancer in China between 1990 and 2011 to analyze the incidence and mortality rates, economic burden, and risk factors of cancer and the effectiveness of interventions. Lung cancer incidence varies within China. People in eastern China, especially women, likely have a higher risk of developing lung cancer than those in western China. The crude mortality rates from lung cancer in 2008 were 47.51 per 100,000 men and 22.69 per 100,000 women. The crude mortality rate was highest in Shanghai (76.49 per 100,000 men and 35.82 per 100,000 women) and lowest in Tibet (25.14 per 100,000 men) and Ningxia (12.09 per 100,000 women). Smoking and environmental pollution are major risk factors for lung cancer in China. Continuous efforts should be concentrated on education of the general public regarding lung cancer to increase prevention and early detection. Specific interventions need to be implemented to reduce smoking rates and environmental risk factors. Standardized treatment protocols should be adapted in China.