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'State of Lung Cancer' 2019 Report Finds that Utah has the Lowest Number of New Lung Cancer Cases in the U.S.

New report from the American Lung Association explores how the national lung cancer survival rate continues to climb and how states can act to save more lives

(November 13, 2019)

For more information please contact:

Holly Harvey
[email protected]
(206) 512-3292

An estimated 780 Utah residents will be diagnosed with lung cancer disease in 2019, but more Americans than ever are surviving the disease according to a new report from the American Lung Association. 

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 percent, up from 17.2 percent a decade ago, reflects a 26 percent improvement over the past 10 years. In Utah the survival rate is 21.4 percent, and Utah ranks first for overall lowest new cases of lung cancer. Utah does rank below average in lung cancer screening and early stage diagnosis. 

“While we celebrate that more Americans than ever are surviving lung cancer, it remains the leading cause of cancer deaths among men and women, and much more must be done in Utah to prevent the disease and support families,” said JoAnna Strother, advocacy director for the American Lung Association in Utah. 

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 percent of lung cancer cases nationally are diagnosed at an early stage. While this simple screening test has been available since 2015, only 2.5 percent of those eligible in Utah have been screened. 

“Screening is a powerful tool to save lives,” said Strother “Yet we’re only seeing a fraction of those who qualify actually getting screened, even though screening can reduce the lung cancer death rate by up to percent.” 

The 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, and this year’s report finds Utah must do more to protect residents from lung cancer. Below are the key findings for Utah:

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. Utah ranks near average at 21.4 percent.

Early Diagnosis: Nationally, only 21.5 percent of cases are diagnosed at an early stage when the five-year survival rate is much higher. Unfortunately, about 48.5 percent of cases are not caught until a late stage when the survival rate is only 6 percent. Utah ranks 40th out of 48 at 19.6 percent,

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 percent of cases underwent surgery. Utah ranks 8th out of 48 states with 24.2 percent.

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 percent of cases receive no treatment. Utah ranks near the bottom with 23.6 percent and ranking 43rd out of 46 states.

Screening and Prevention: Screening for lung cancer with annual low-dose CT scans among those who qualify can reduce the lung cancer death rate. Nationally, only 4.2 percent of those who qualify were screened. Utah ranked among the bottom with 2.5 percent.  

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 Holly Harvey at [email protected] or 206-512-3292.

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