Prevention, control, and treatment of respiratory tract cancers are important steps towards achieving target 3.4 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—a one-third reduction in premature mortality due to non-communicable diseases by 2030. We aimed to provide global, regional, and national estimates of the burden of tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer and larynx cancer and their attributable risks from 1990 to 2019.
Based on the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2019 methodology, we evaluated the incidence, mortality, years lived with disability, years of life lost, and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) of respiratory tract cancers (ie, tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer and larynx cancer). Deaths from tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer and larynx cancer attributable to each risk factor were estimated on the basis of risk exposure, relative risks, and the theoretical minimum risk exposure level input from 204 countries and territories, stratified by sex and Socio-demographic Index (SDI). Trends were estimated from 1990 to 2019, with an emphasis on the 2010–19 period.
Globally, there were 2·26 million (95% uncertainty interval 2·07 to 2·45) new cases of tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer, and 2·04 million (1·88 to 2·19) deaths and 45·9 million (42·3 to 49·3) DALYs due to tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer in 2019. There were 209 000 (194 000 to 225 000) new cases of larynx cancer, and 123 000 (115 000 to 133 000) deaths and 3·26 million (3·03 to 3·51) DALYs due to larynx cancer globally in 2019. From 2010 to 2019, the number of new tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer cases increased by 23·3% (12·9 to 33·6) globally and the number of larynx cancer cases increased by 24·7% (16·0 to 34·1) globally. Global age-standardised incidence rates of tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer decreased by 7·4% (–16·8 to 1·6) and age-standardised incidence rates of larynx cancer decreased by 3·0% (–10·5 to 5·0) in males over the past decade; however, during the same period, age-standardised incidence rates in females increased by 0·9% (–8·2 to 10·2) for tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer and decreased by 0·5% (–8·4 to 8·1) for larynx cancer. Furthermore, although age-standardised incidence and death rates declined in both sexes combined from 2010 to 2019 at the global level for tracheal, bronchus, lung and larynx cancers, some locations had rising rates, particularly those on the lower end of the SDI range. Smoking contributed to an estimated 64·2% (61·9–66·4) of all deaths from tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer and 63·4% (56·3–69·3) of all deaths from larynx cancer in 2019. For males and for both sexes combined, smoking was the leading specific risk factor for age-standardised deaths from tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer per 100 000 in all SDI quintiles and GBD regions in 2019. However, among females, household air pollution from solid fuels was the leading specific risk factor in the low SDI quintile and in three GBD regions (central, eastern, and western sub-Saharan Africa) in 2019.
The numbers of incident cases and deaths from tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer and larynx cancer increased globally during the past decade. Even more concerning, age-standardised incidence and death rates due to tracheal, bronchus, lung cancer and larynx cancer increased in some populations—namely, in the lower SDI quintiles and among females. Preventive measures such as smoking control interventions, air quality management programmes focused on major air pollution sources, and widespread access to clean energy should be prioritised in these settings.
GBD 2019 Respiratory Tract Cancers Collaborators. Global, regional, and national burden of respiratory tract cancers and associated risk factors from 1990 to 2019: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. 16 August 2021. doi: 10.1016/S2213-2600(21)00164-8.