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Respiratory Groups Stress Lung Cancer Risks and Importance of Early Screening and Treatment for World Lung Cancer Day

July 28, 2023 – New York, NY – On World Lung Cancer Day, Aug. 1, the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) and its founding member, the American Thoracic Society, stress the importance of understanding lung cancer risk factors, as well as the importance of early detection through screening, and treatment.

According to the World Health Organization, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide for both men and women. In 2020, there were 2.21 million new lung cancer cases globally and 1.80 million deaths.

While smoking is the single greatest risk factor for lung cancer, accounting for 85 percent of all cases, other lesser-known risk factors include environmental exposures and genetics. Environmental exposure to radon, asbestos, arsenic, beryllium, and uranium has been linked to lung cancer. The risk of lung cancer also increases with a history of cancer in another part of the body, age, family history, radiation to the chest area, and lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

“World Lung Cancer Day offers an opportunity to raise awareness for the staggering global impact of this cancer,” said ATS President M. Patricia Rivera, MD, ATSF. “With one in four cancer deaths attributed to lung cancer, promoting early detection through lung cancer screening is critical to reduce lung cancer deaths worldwide.”

If you currently smoke or have a history of formerly smoking and are 50 years or older, you may be a candidate for a screening low-dose CT scan that can potentially detect lung cancer in its earliest stages.

Lung cancer symptoms include a persistent and worsening cough, coughing up blood, chest or back pain, and difficulty swallowing. Tests that may be used to diagnose lung cancer include chest X-rays, Chest CT and PET scans, bronchoscopy, and needle biopsies.

To learn more about lung cancer screening, visit

For tobacco cessation resources, visit

For more American Thoracic Society resources, see our Patient Fact Sheets on lung cancer.