Lung cancer incidence trends by gender, race and histology in the United States, 1973-2010

PLoS One. 2015 Mar 30;10(3):e0121323. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0121323. eCollection 2015.


Background: Lung cancer (LC) incidence in the United States (US) continues to decrease but with significant differences by histology, gender and race. Whereas squamous, large and small cell carcinoma rates have been decreasing since the mid-80s, adenocarcinoma rates remain stable in males and continue to increase in females, with large racial disparities. We analyzed LC incidence trends by histology in the US with an emphasis on gender and racial differences.

Methods: LC incidence rates from 1973-2010 were obtained from the SEER cancer registry. Age-adjusted incidence trends of five major histological types by gender and race were evaluated using joinpoint regression. Trends of LC histology and stage distributions from 2005-2010 were analyzed.

Results: US LC incidence varies by histology. Squamous, large and small cell carcinoma rates continue to decrease for all gender/race combinations, whereas adenocarcinoma rates remain relatively constant in males and increasing in females. An apparent recent increase in the incidence of squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma since 2005 can be explained by a concomitant decrease in the number of cases classified as other non-small cell carcinoma. Black males continue to be disproportionally affected by squamous LCs, and blacks continue to be diagnosed with more advanced cancers than whites.

Conclusions: LC incidence by histology continues to change over time. Additional variations are expected as screening becomes disseminated. It is important to continue to monitor LC rates to evaluate the impact of screening on current trends, assess the continuing benefits of tobacco control, and focus efforts on reducing racial disparities.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / epidemiology*
  • Adenocarcinoma / history
  • Adenocarcinoma of Lung
  • Carcinoma, Large Cell / epidemiology*
  • Carcinoma, Large Cell / history
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / epidemiology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / history
  • Female
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / history
  • Male
  • Racial Groups
  • SEER Program / trends
  • Sex Factors
  • Small Cell Lung Carcinoma / epidemiology*
  • Small Cell Lung Carcinoma / history
  • United States / epidemiology