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New Report Reveals North Dakota Ranks Well for Lung Cancer Survival, Treatment

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) - FARGO, North Dakota

For more information please contact:

Jill Thompson
[email protected]
312-940-7001

Today, the American Lung Association released the annual “State of Lung Cancer” Report, which reveals the impact of lung cancer in North Dakota. North Dakota ranked well for lung cancer survival rates, treatment and screening rates.

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. Here in North Dakota, the survival rate is 23.3%, which is above the national average.

“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 North Dakota to prevent the disease and support families facing the disease,” said Pat McKone, senior director of health promotions for the Lung Association. 

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 screening test has been available since 2015, only 5.9% of those eligible in North Dakota have been screened. 

“This simple test - lung cancer screening - is a powerful tool to save lives,” said McKone. “Yet we’re only seeing a fraction of those who qualify actually getting screened. We’re pushing for greater awareness of this test to save more lives here in North Dakota.”

The "State of Lung Cancer" report finds that the burden of lung cancer varies by state. By better understanding the impact of lung cancer across the nation, efforts and policies can be focused where the needs are greatest. Below are the key findings for North Dakota:

  • Incidence: Incidence refers to the number of new cases of lung cancer in each state. On average, the higher prevalence of smoking, the more lung cancer cases in a state. The national lung cancer incidence rate is 59.6. North Dakota has the 19th highest lung cancer incidence rate in the nation (average) at a rate of 57.6 people out of 100,000 people.
  • 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. North Dakota is the 10th best in the nation for survival rates at 23.3%.
  • Early Diagnosis: Nationally, only 21.5% of cases are diagnosed at an early stage when the survival rate is much higher. Unfortunately, about 48.5% of cases are not caught until a late stage when the survival rate is only 6%. North Dakota ranks 17th in the nation (average) at 22.2%.
  • 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. North Dakota ranks 31st nationally (below average) at 18.8%.
  • 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. North Dakota ranks the best in the nation at 8%.
  • 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. North Dakota ranked 15th in the nation (above average) with 5.9%.  

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 Jill Thompson at the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 312-940-7001.

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.

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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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