Although lung cancer incidence is decreasing in the United States, the details about this trend are unknown. Researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) analyzed Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) data on squamous cell, small cell, adenocarcinoma, large cell, other, and unspecified lung cancers among whites and blacks diagnosed from 1977 to 2010 and white non-Hispanics, Asian/Pacific Islanders, and white Hispanics diagnosed from 1992 to 2010 (the years this data was available).
Squamous and small cell lung cancer rates have decreased since the 1990s. Adenocarcinoma rates decreased among males but only through 2005—they then increased from 2006-2010 for all racial and ethnic groups and for females as well. Male/female rate ratios declined among whites and blacks more than among other groups. Recent rates among young females were higher than among males for adenocarcinoma among all racial/ethnic groups and for other specified carcinomas among whites. The NCI researchers concluded that US lung cancer trends do in fact vary by gender, histologic type, racial/ethnic group, and age, reflecting historical cigarette smoking rates, duration, cessation, cigarette composition, and exposure to other carcinogens. Substantial excesses among males have decreased and higher rates of adenocarcinoma among young females have emerged. The recognition of EGFR mutation and ALK rearrangements that occur primarily in adenocarcinomas are the primary basis for the molecular revolution that has transformed lung cancer diagnosis and treatment over the past decade, and these changes have affected recent type-specific trends.
Lewis DR, Check DP, Caporaso NE. U.S. lung cancer trends by histologic type. Cancer, DOI: 10.1002/cncr.28749, published online 8/11/14.