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Maine Among the Highest Incidence Rates of Lung Cancer in the Country, According to New Report by American Lung Association

First ever 2018 ‘State of Lung Cancer’ report shows how lung cancer rates vary across the country, and what Maine can do to better support lung cancer patients and those at high risk

(February 28, 2018) - AUGUSTA, Maine

For more information please contact:

Jennifer Solomon
[email protected]
(516) 680-8927

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 Maine can do more to protect their residents from lung cancer.

“There will be over 1,400 people in Maine diagnosed with lung cancer and more than 900 will succumb to the deadly disease in 2018. More must be done to save lives,” said Jeff Seyler, Executive Vice President for the American Lung Association, Northeast Region. “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 that Maine lags behind in comparison to the rest of the United States, especially in the Northeast:

  • Incidence: More than 234,000 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year, and the rate of new cases vary by state. Maine ranks 45 out of 50 states and the District of Columbia with a lung cancer incidence of 74.9 per 100,000 people. 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 Maine ranking number ten at 20.1 percent. 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 Maine, 19.2 percent of lung cancer cases were diagnosed at early stages, when it is most likely to be curable.  Although that is slightly higher than the national average it still means 4 of every 5 diagnoses are made when cancer is in advanced stages. 
  • 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. Maine ranks 23 out of 50 states and the District of Columbia, with 4.5 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 Maine, 21.6 percent of cases underwent surgery as part of the first course of treatment, ranking 13 out of 48 states and the District of Columbia. Quality healthcare and new treatment options for lung cancer are needed to increase survival rates.

“The high rate of new lung cancer cases in Maine is alarming and should immediately spur conversations in the state legislature about how we can further reduce risk factors like tobacco use, exposure to radon gas, air pollution and secondhand smoke, “ said Lance Boucher, Director of Public Policy for the American Lung Association in Maine  “This report makes it clear that the burden of lung cancer is not the same everywhere – and unfortunately out of the seven northeastern states, Maine has ranked the worst in every category – so we know there is work to be done.”

On Wednesday, March 14, Michael Chapman, from Gorham, Maine, will be heading to Capitol Hill to share the story of his mother, Marjorie Tilden and her battle with lung cancer, and these startling statistics with his 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.

“My mom was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2014 and unfortunately passed away from complications of the disease in November of 2016.  I am fortunate to be able to share my mom’s story with anyone who will listen,” said Chapman. “We need more voices in this fight against cancer and I am proud to share her 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 Marjorie Tilden,  their loved ones and caregivers like Michael Chapman, 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 Michael Chapman on his upcoming trip to Washington, D.C., contact the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 516-680-8927.


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:

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