American Lung Association's 'State of Lung Cancer' 2019 Report Finds Vermont Must Act to Reduce Burden of Lung Cancer
Second annual report from American Lung Association explores how states can act to save more lives, support patients and families facing lung cancer
(November 13, 2019) - Williston, VT
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Lung cancer is the #1 cancer killer of women and men in the United States. While it’s estimated that 510 Vermont residents will be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2019 alone, fortunately more Americans than ever are surviving the disease according to a new report from the American Lung Association.
The annual “State of Lung Cancer” report examines the toll of lung cancer throughout the nation, and outlines steps every state can take to better protect its residents from lung cancer. This year’s “State of Lung Cancer” seeks to continue the positive trend of increased lung cancer survival, as the nationwide five-year lung cancer survival rate of 21.7%, up from 17.2% a decade ago, reflects a 26% improvement over the past 10 years. In Vermont the survival rate is 23.1% placing it above the average in state rankings.
“While we celebrate that more Americans than ever are surviving lung cancer, the disease remains the leading cause of cancer deaths, and much more can and must be done in Vermont to prevent the disease and support families facing the disease,” said Elizabeth Hamlin, Director of Advocacy for the American Lung Association in Vermont. One of the most startling statistics is that 20.4 % of lung cancer patients in Vermont received no treatment at all, which should be a red flag for Vermont.”
Part of the reason that lung cancer is so deadly is because most lung cancer cases are diagnosed at a later stage, after the disease has spread. Lung cancer screening is the key to early detection, when the disease is most curable, but only 21.5% of lung cancer cases nationally are diagnosed at an early stage. While this simple screening test has been available since 2015, 12.1% of those eligible in Vermont have been screened. Vermont ranks 2nd for the percentage of high risk patients being screened, behind only Massachusetts.
Hamlin continued, “This simple test - lung cancer screening - is a powerful tool to save lives, and yet we’re only seeing a fraction of those who qualify actually getting screened. We are working to bring more awareness of screenings to the general public, but also to continue to push the medical community to offer these screenings to high risk patients, the same way they encourage tests like colonoscopies and mammograms.”
The "State of Lung Cancer" 2019 report finds that the burden of lung cancer varies on a state by state basis. By better understanding the impact of lung cancer across the nation, efforts and policies can be focused where the needs are greatest, and this year’s report finds Vermont can and must do more to protect residents from lung cancer. Below are the key findings for Vermont:
- Survival: Lung cancer has one of the lowest five-year survival rates because cases are often diagnosed at later stages when it is less likely to be curable. Vermont ranks above average at 23.1%.
- Early Diagnosis: Nationally, only 21.5 % of cases are diagnosed at an early stage when the five-year survival rate is much higher (57.7%). Unfortunately, about 48.5% of cases are not caught until a late stage when the survival rate is only 6%. In Vermont at 22.7% of cases are diagnosed early.
- Surgical Treatment: Lung cancer can often be treated with surgery if it is diagnosed at an early stage and has not spread widely. Nationally, 20.6 % of cases underwent surgery. In Vermont only 18.4% underwent surgery, placing it below the average.
- Lack of Treatment: There are multiple reasons why patients may not receive treatment. Some of these reasons may be unavoidable, but no one should go untreated because of lack of provider or patient knowledge, stigma associated with lung cancer, fatalism after diagnosis, or cost of treatment. Nationally, about 15.4% of cases receive no treatment. Vermont ranks among the lowest at 20.4%.
- Screening and Prevention: Screening for lung cancer with annual low-dose CT scans among those who qualify can reduce the lung cancer death rate by up to 20%. Nationally, only 4.2% of those who qualify were screened. Vermont ranked among the top with 12.1%.
Learn more about "State of Lung Cancer" at Lung.org/solc. For media interested in speaking with a medical expert about the "State of Lung Cancer" 2019 report or lung cancer survivor about their experience, contact Jennifer Solomon at the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 516-680-8927.
Background on the Report
The American Lung Association’s “State of Lung Cancer” 2019 is the second report we have released on key lung cancer statistics for each state. The 2019 report uses data from the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and American College of Radiology (ACR), among other sources. Analysis of this data is conducted by the American Lung Association Epidemiology and Statistics team.
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 coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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