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Tobacco and cancer: What are the survival rates?

The decline in the smoking rate has not changed some very significant facts: tobacco use remains the number one cause of preventable death and cancer death in the United States.


Nearly 30 percent of U.S. cancer deaths can be attributed to tobacco use

Nearly 30 percent of cancer deaths in the country can be attributed to tobacco use, according to the 2017 Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer from the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Cancer Institute and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries.

Tobacco has firmly established links to 12 different kinds of cancer, many of which have the lowest survival rates. Five cancers with the lowest chances of survival five years after diagnosis that are strongly linked to tobacco use include: lung (18.7 percent), pancreas (8.5 percent), liver (18.1 percent), esophagus (20.5 percent) and stomach (31.1 percent).

Curbing tobacco use has a huge impact on cancer deaths. For example, researchers estimate that the decline in tobacco use rates over the past 40 years accounted for about a 40 percent decline in male cancer deaths overall from 1991 to 2003.

“These facts underscore the need for expansions of federal and state tobacco control programs and the development of new strategies, such as pricing strategies and plain tobacco packaging to accelerate the reduction in tobacco use,” states the report.

For more on this topic, read our tobacco and cancer fact sheet.

Key takeaways


Tobacco use is the number 1 cause of cancer death in the U.S.


Nearly 30 percent of U.S. cancer deaths can be attributed to tobacco use


Tobacco use is linked to 12 different kinds of cancer


5 cancers with the lowest chances for survival are linked to tobacco use