American Lung Association's 'State of Lung Cancer' 2019 Report Finds Maine 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) - Augusta, ME
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Lung cancer is the #1 cancer killer of women and men in the United States. While it’s estimated that 1,400 Maine residents will be diagnosed with this disease 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 Maine the survival rate is close to the average at 21.9%.
“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 Maine to prevent the disease and support families facing the disease,” said Lance Boucher, Senior Division Director for State Public Policy for the American Lung Association. “Unfortunately Maine has one of the highest incidence rates of lung cancer in the nation, so that’s certainly an indicator that there is work to be done.”
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 with a test called low-dose CT (LDCT) 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, 6.8% of those eligible in Maine have been screened.
Dr. Paul Han, Principal Investigator of the Maine Lung Cancer Coalition (MLCC) said, “Lung cancer screening with low-dose CT is a powerful tool that can save lives, and yet only a fraction of people who qualify for screening are actually getting it. The Maine Lung Cancer Coalition is working to increase public awareness of lung cancer screening, and to build the capacity of the medical community to offer this screening to all qualified high-risk patients, the same way they offer cancer screening 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 Maine can and must do more to protect residents from lung cancer. Below are the key findings for Maine:
- 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. Maine ranks near the national average at 21.9%.
- 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 Maine 21.4% of cases are diagnosed at an early stage.
- 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. Maine ranks at #10 (out of 48) with 22.6% cases treated with surgery.
- 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. Maine ranks among the top with only 9.6% of cases not receiving treatment.
- 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. In Maine 6.8 % of high risk patients are screened, placing it as the 8th best state for performing screenings.
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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