American Lung Association Finds That North Carolina Can do More to Reduce the Toll of Lung Cancer – the #1 Cancer Killer of Women and Men
2018 ‘State of Lung Cancer report shows how lung cancer rates vary across the country, and what North Carolina can do to better support lung cancer patients and those at high risk
(February 28, 2018) - CHARLOTTE, N.C.
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Every two and a half minutes someone in the United States will be diagnosed with lung cancer. The American Lung Association’s inaugural LUNG FORCE “State of Lung Cancer” 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 North Carolina can do more to protect their residents from lung cancer.
“There will be over 8,490 people in North Carolina diagnosed with lung cancer and 5,770 will succumb to the deadly disease in 2018. More must be done to save lives,” said American Lung Association Southeast Region Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Health Promotion, June Deen. “The American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE initiative was created to help defeat lung cancer - the leading cause of cancer deaths - and this new report outlines what we need to do to succeed - tackling both the disease and its risk factors as well as supporting access to preventative health services and treatment options.”
The LUNG FORCE “State of Lung Cancer” 2018 report finds that lung cancer diagnosis and survival rates vary state by state. It also highlights that some states are yet to report on all of the key lung cancer indicators. By better understanding the impact of lung cancer at the state level, we can enact policies and focus attention where the need is greatest. This report covers the following measures of lung cancer burden, and shows where North Carolina ranks in comparison to the rest of the United States:
- Incidence: On average, the higher prevalence of smoking, the more lung cancer cases in a state. North Carolina ranks 38 out of 50 states and the District of Columbia with a lung cancer incidence of 70.9 per 100,000 people, which parallels the current smoking rate of 17.9 percent. 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 effective ways to 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, with North Carolina at 19.5 percent. Yet 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.
- Stage at Diagnosis: People diagnosed at early stages of lung cancer are five times more likely to survive, but unfortunately only 18.9 percent of lung cancer cases nationally are diagnosed at an early stage. In North Carolina, only 19 percent of lung cancer cases were diagnosed at early stages, when it is most likely to be curable.
- Screening Centers: The availability of accredited lung cancer screening sites has been shown to be positively related to survival of lung cancer, with each additional screening site per million people being associated with a 0.3 percentage point increase in the lung cancer survival rate. North Carolina ranks 14 out of 50 states and the District of Columbia, with 6.0 screening centers per million people. Raising awareness of these screening facilities, as well as criteria for low-dose CT scans, 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. In North Carolina, 20.5 percent of cases underwent surgery as part of the first course of treatment, ranking 21 out of 48 states and the District of Columbia. Quality healthcare and new treatment options for lung cancer are needed to increase survival rates.
“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 Deen. “Treatment, exposure to risk factors, and access to screening facilities vary from state to state, and North Carolina’s leaders must do more to act and implement proven policies to reduce the deadly toll of lung cancer.”
On Wednesday, March 14, lung cancer survivor Doris Castevens, from Charlotte, will be heading to Capitol Hill to share her story and these startling statistics with her members of Congress. LUNG FORCE Heroes from all 50 states will be asking Congress to support increased funding for the National Institutes of Health for better treatment and early detection of lung cancer, as well as sharing why quality and affordable healthcare is especially important for lung cancer patients.
“I was diagnosed in January of 2016 with stage IV lung cancer,” said Castevens. As a never smoker, lung cancer is rarely diagnosed before stage IV due to the symptoms being so obscure. We need more voices in this fight against cancer and I am proud to share my story and advocate on behalf of the millions of people that have been affected by lung cancer.”
The LUNG FORCE “State of Lung Cancer” report is both a guide post and rallying cry, providing policymakers, researchers, healthcare practitioners, as well as patients, caregivers and others committed to ending lung cancer, with a one-stop resource for identifying how their state can best focus to support lung cancer patients – like Doris Castevens, their caregivers, and those at high risk for lung cancer.
For media interested in speaking with an expert about the LUNG FORCE “State of Lung Cancer” report, or Doris Castevens on her upcoming trip to Washington, D.C., contact the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 470-233-7030.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.