Report: Pa.’s lung cancer screening rates are too low | Tuesday Morning Coffee

But lung cancer treatment and survival rates exceed the national average

By: - November 15, 2022 7:17 am
Lung cancer concept. doctor explaining results of lung check up from x-ray scan chest on digital tablet screen to patient.

(Getty Images)

Pennsylvania’s lung cancer screening, treatment and survival rates all exceed the national average, but there’s still “much life-saving work to be done,” according to a new report.

The “State of Lung Cancer” report, released today by the American Lung Association, also reveals that the radioactive gas radon, the second leading cause of lung cancer, is detected at high levels in about 2 in 5 homes (39.1 percent) statewide.

The report further reveals that people of color in the state are less likely to be diagnosed early; less likely to receive surgical treatment, and more likely to receive no treatment at all.

“Lung cancer screening is key to early diagnosis, and early diagnosis saves lives. Unfortunately, here in Pennsylvania, not enough people are getting this lifesaving screening. We all can help reduce the burden of lung cancer in Pennsylvania,” Deborah Brown, the American Lung Association’s chief mission officer, said in a statement.

Nationwide, about 237,000 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer, according to the report, which also shows continued success for lung cancer survival.

In Pennsylvania, an estimated 11,170 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year, and 5,990 will die from the disease, according to the report.

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“Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths, yet awareness about lung cancer remains low and the lifesaving potential of lung cancer screening remains underutilized,” the state branch of the American Lung Association said in a statement.

Nationwide, the five-year survival rate is now 25 percent, and increased 21 percent from 2014 to 2018. Pennsylvania’s survival rate is 26.8 percent, and above average for treatment at 17.5 percent, according to the report.

PA LUNG CANCER DATA ART
(Source: American Lung Association)

According to the report, Pennsylvania ranked:

  • 33rd nationwide for its rate of new lung cancer cases at 62 per 100,000 people. That’s a 10 percent improvement over last five years. The national rate is 56.7 per 100,000.
  • 12th nationwide for survival at 26.8 percent, marking a 22 percent improvement over the last five years. The national rate of people alive five years after a lung cancer diagnosis is 25 percent.
  • 20th nationwide for early diagnosis at 26.4 percent, marking a 14 percent improvement over last five years. Nationwide, just 25.8 percent of cases are diagnosed at an early stage when the survival rate is much higher.
  • 12th nationwide for lung cancer screening at 8.8 percent. Lung cancer screening with annual low-dose CT scans for those at high risk can reduce the lung cancer death rate by up to 20 percent. Nationally, only 5.8 percent of those at high risk were screened.
  • 11th nationwide for surgery at 22.4 percent. Lung cancer often can be treated with surgery if it’s diagnosed early enough and hasn’t spread. Nationwide, 20.8 percent of cases underwent surgery.
  • 15th nationwide for lack of treatment at 17.5 percent, and a 21 percent improvement over past five years. Nationwide, 20.6 percent of cases receive no treatment.
  • 39th nationwide for radon test results that were at or above the action level recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at 39.1 percent, landing the state in the below average tier.

“If you are eligible for lung cancer screening, we encourage you to speak with your doctor about it. If a loved one is eligible, please encourage them to get screened,” Brown continued, adding that “It’s also important to learn more about radon, how it affects your health and what you can do about it.”

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press.

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