World Lung Cancer Day: respiratory groups stress lung cancer risks and importance of early screening and treatment

World Lung Cancer Day: respiratory groups stress lung cancer risks and importance of early screening and treatment - article image

1 August, 2023

On World Lung Cancer Day (1 August, 2023), the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), including its founding member the European Respiratory Society (ERS), stresses 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 type of cancer,” said Prof. Dr. Torsten Blum, Head of ERS Assembly 11 – thoracic oncology.

“Lung Cancer remains a serious threat, with one in four cancer deaths attributed to it. Yet thanks to the progress made in recent years, we can now offer our patients much better diagnostics and personalised treatment options. People at high risk of lung cancer will benefit from structured low-dose CT screening programmes when implemented on a national basis.

“Breaking down barriers to screening and ensuring access for people across all social and economic groups is among the main objectives of the pioneering EU4Health project, SOLACE, launched earlier this year, with ERS and the European Lung Foundation (ELF) among its founding members. SOLACE will facilitate implementation of lung cancer screening programmes across Europe.

“Its new stakeholder forum aims to build a network of external stakeholders, and a new survey on lung cancer screening perceptions and practices in Europe is now also inviting responses. I would encourage anyone who wants to support SOLACE and its objectives to get involved in both; we count on your interest and support in advancing lung cancer screening in Europe and internationally.”

If you currently smoke or have a history of 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.

Learn more about lung cancer screening.

Browse tobacco cessation resources.

For more ERS resources relating to thoracic oncology including lung cancer, visit

Environmental and occupational health