What Countries Have the Highest and Lowest Lung Cancer Rates? | MyLungCancerTeam

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What Countries Have the Highest and Lowest Lung Cancer Rates?

Written by Sarah Winfrey
Posted on June 5, 2024

Lung cancer rates differ, depending on where you live. These differences are based on a number of factors, including smoking rates, exposure to secondhand smoke, and pollution levels. Exposure to some chemicals common in certain jobs and to radon — a gas that you can’t see, smell, or taste and can be found indoors and outdoors — can also play a role.

Some of these risk factors vary by country, and others vary by culture or ethnic group.

Around the world, lung cancer is the second most common cancer. About 1 in 10 people diagnosed with cancer have lung cancer, and 1 out of every 5 cancer deaths are from lung cancer. Men are twice as likely to be diagnosed as women, according to a 2021 study in the journal Contemporary Oncology.

In this article, all the incidence rates refer to the number of people diagnosed with lung cancer out of every 100,000 people in the country. A rate of 40 means that 40 in every 100,000 people (not 40 people total) were diagnosed with lung cancer. This is the standard way of talking about lung cancer rates around the world.

5 Countries With the Highest Lung Cancer Rates

These five countries have the highest lung cancer rates globally.

1. Hungary

Hungary is an Eastern European country with a lung cancer diagnosis rate of 50.1. It’s also the country with the highest lung cancer rates for women, at 38.1, though it ranks No. 3 for men, at 66.6, according to World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) International.

2. Serbia

Serbia, also in Eastern Europe, has a lung cancer rate of 47.3. In Serbia, lung cancer is the type of cancer most likely to be diagnosed in men and the second most common type for women, according to the Journal of Thoracic Oncology.

3. New Caledonia

New Caledonia, a French colony made up of a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean, has a lung cancer rate of 42.9. The soil in the area contains tremolite, which has been used to whitewash buildings. Inhaling tremolite fibers may cause increased rates of lung cancer in the area.

4. French Polynesia

French Polynesia is another group of islands in the Pacific, with a lung cancer rate of 40.4. Researchers don’t know exactly why lung cancer rates are so high in the country, but they believe a number of cultural, social, and economic factors are at work.

5. Turkey

Turkey also has high lung cancer rates, coming in at 40. This country has the highest rates of lung cancer for men across the globe, at 74.8, according to WCRF International. Researchers believe that most of the lung cancer in Turkey is caused by cigarette smoking.

5 Countries With the Lowest Lung Cancer Rates

On the other end of the spectrum, these five countries have the lowest lung cancer rates.

1. Niger

Niger, the country with the lowest rate of lung cancer in the world at 0.88, is in West Africa. Experts note that this number may not be accurate, as the country does not have the infrastructure necessary for everyone who has lung cancer to get diagnosed.

2. Mozambique

Mozambique, located in southeastern Africa, has a lung cancer rate of 1.4. The World Health Organization (WHO) believes that lung cancer rates in the country will rise by 2040.

3. Benin

Benin, another West African country, comes in with a lung cancer rate of 1.7. However, researchers predict that the number of lung cancer deaths will rise in the country by 2030, even if smoking rates go down.

4. Republic of the Congo

The Republic of the Congo is also in the western part of Africa, and its lung cancer rate is 1.8. Lung cancer is ranked 40th when it comes to causes of death in the country, accounting for 0.18 percent of total deaths.

5. Togo

Togo is a small West African country with a lung cancer rate of 1.9. Researchers don’t know why the rates are so low in this relatively undeveloped country, but they think the reason may be that only 7 percent of the population smokes.

25 Countries With the Highest Lung Cancer Rates Around the World

These countries have the highest lung cancer rates globally.

CountryLung Cancer Rate
Hungary50.1
Serbia47.3
New Caledonia42.9
French Polynesia40.4
Turkey40.0
Montenegro39.7
Belgium38.3
Bosnia and Herzegovina37.8
North Korea37
Denmark36.8
Guam36.6
Poland36.2
France34.9
Greece34.9
China34.8
Croatia34.7
Ireland34.6
Netherlands33.4
United States33.1
Samoa32.9
North Macedonia32.4
United Kingdom32.3
Japan32.1
Brunei32
Germany31.9

25 Countries With the Lowest Lung Cancer Rates Around the World

These countries have the lowest lung cancer rates.

CountryLung Cancer Rate
Niger0.88
Mozambique1.4
Benin1.7
Republic of the Congo1.8
Nigeria1.9
Malawi1.9
Togo1.9
Burkina Faso2.0
South Sudan2.0
Mauritania2.0
Chad2.1
DR Congo2.2
Sierra Leone2.3
Central African Republic2.3
Comoros2.3
Guinea Bissau2.4
Sudan2.5
Madagascar2.5
Ivory Coast2.6
Senegal2.6
Uganda2.8
Liberia2.8
Guinea2.9
Equatorial Guinea2.9
Djibouti3.0

Gabon, a country along Central Africa’s Atlantic coast, also has a low lung cancer rate of 3 in 100,000.

Lung Cancer in the United States

The United States has relatively high lung cancer rates, compared with the rest of the world. The U.S. comes in at number 19, with a rate of 33.1. Among states, Kentucky has the highest rates of lung cancer in the country for both men and women, according to the American Lung Association, and Utah has the lowest.

Over the past 10 years, U.S. lung cancer rates have decreased, going down by 11 percent for women and 23 percent for men. Black males have the highest rates of lung cancer, at 68.3, according to the American Lung Association, and white males come in second at 61.5. Both white and American Indian/Alaska Native females are more likely than black females to be diagnosed, however.

Lung cancer is trending downward as smoking becomes less common in the U.S. Since 1964, when the country’s surgeon general released a report on the dangers of tobacco smoking, the rate of people who do so has fallen by half. After that, lung cancer rates peaked in 1984 for men and 1998 for women.

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyLungCancerTeam is the social network for people with lung cancer and their loved ones. On MyLungCancerTeam, more than 12,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with lung cancer.

Are you wondering how common lung cancer is in your country? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

    Posted on June 5, 2024
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    Sarah Winfrey is a writer at MyHealthTeam. Learn more about her here.

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