March 13th, 2018 by Charlie Blackburn | NAACCReview Home Leave a comment


Zach Jump
Director of Epidemiology and Statistics
American Lung Association



Every two and a half minutes someone in the United States will be diagnosed with lung cancer, with an estimated 234,030 new cases in the United States this year. The American Lung Association’s inaugural LUNG FORCE “State of Lung Cancer” 2018 report is the first time that these national and state lung cancer statistics have been analyzed in one report to show how the toll of lung cancer varies across the country and how every state and the nation can do more to protect residents from lung cancer.

“Nationally, the five-year survival rate for lung cancer is 18.1 percent—meaning four out of five people diagnosed will not survive longer than five years,” said American Lung Association National President and CEO Harold P. Wimmer. “More must be done to save lives, and this new report serves as a powerful tool for identifying both needs and opportunities in every state to turn the tide against lung cancer.”

According to Wimmer, in its inaugural year the “State of Lung Cancer” will serve as a baseline for tracking of efforts to defeat lung cancer, and unveil new opportunities to enact change.

“While we have seen some advancements in lung cancer treatment options and a new method of early detection, the burden of lung cancer is not the same everywhere,” said Wimmer. “The ‘State of Lung Cancer’ report makes it clear that as a nation we need to do a better job. Every state needs to make prevention a priority with proven effective policies, and to also ensure screening facilities are available for those eligible for screening, regardless of where you live. This is how we’ll save lives.”

The LUNG FORCE “State of Lung Cancer” 2018 report finds that lung cancer diagnoses and survival rates vary state by state. By better understanding the impact of lung cancer across the nation, efforts and policies can be focused where the needs are greatest. This report ranks each state on the following:

  • Incidence: More than 234,000 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year, and the rate of new cases varies greatly by state. The report finds that Utah has the nation’s lowest lung cancer rates while Kentucky has the highest. There are a variety of risk factors associated with lung cancer, including smoking, exposure to radon gas, air pollution and secondhand smoke. Radon testing and mitigation, healthy air protections, and reducing the smoking rate through tobacco tax increases, smokefree air laws and access to comprehensive quit smoking services are all ways to help prevent new lung cancer cases.
  • Survival Rate: Lung cancer is often not caught at an early stage, when it is more likely to be curable. The five-year lung cancer survival rate ranges from 24 percent in New York to 15.9 percent in Louisiana. Only 31 states track this important metric, which should be implemented by all states to enhance monitoring of lung cancer, and help identify how to improve lung cancer survival.
  • Early or Late Diagnosis: People diagnosed at an early stage of lung cancer are five times more likely to survive, but only 18.9 percent of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at an early stage. The percent of cases diagnosed at an early stage—when it is most likely to be curable—was highest for Wyoming at 23.3 percent and lowest for Hawaii and Oregon at 15.0 percent.
  • Screening Centers: The “State of Lung Cancer” finds that those living in states with greater availability of accredited lung cancer screening sites generally have greater early diagnosis and survival of lung cancer. Delaware had the most screening centers per million people at 21.1, while Utah had the fewest centers per million people at 0.7. Raising awareness of screening facilities that perform low-dose CT scans for those eligible can improve patient outcomes.
  • Surgical Treatment: Lung cancer is more likely to be curable if the tumor can be surgically removed, and surgery is more likely to be an option if the diagnosis is made at an early stage before the cancer has spread. Nationally, 21 percent of cases underwent surgery as part of the first course of treatment, ranging from 30.1 percent in Massachusetts to 14.3 percent in Oklahoma.

As the American Lung Association works toward defeating lung cancer, it is the goal of the LUNG FORCE “State of Lung Cancer” report to empower the public with the knowledge and information to appeal to state governors and raise awareness of this deadly disease. The report takes a look at key lung cancer measures to highlight the burden and examine opportunities to better address lung cancer at the state level. The report found that in addition to incidence, early diagnosis, and surgical treatment, it is imperative for states to track survival rate and to identify opportunities to enact lung cancer interventions like decreasing exposure to radon and secondhand smoke, and eliminating tobacco use. This report is both a one-stop resource and rallying cry for state officials, policymakers, researchers and those affected by lung cancer and to emphasize the need for resources and action to decrease the toll of lung cancer across the country.


Click here to view the 2018 State of Lung Cancer Report

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and may not represent the official positions of NAACCR.


Copyright © 2018 NAACCR, Inc. All Rights Reserved | naaccr-swoosh-only See NAACCR Partners and Sponsors