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'State of Lung Cancer' 2019 Report Finds That New Mexico Ranks at the Bottom for Lung Cancer Screening and Early Stage Diagnosis

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) - ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico

For more information please contact:

Bo Smith
[email protected]
310-359-6386

New Mexico ranks 45th out of 48 reporting states for early stage diagnosis for lung cancer, according to the new “State of Lung Cancer” 2019 report.

The report finds that the burden of lung cancer varies by state. This year’s report shows a positive trend overall 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 New Mexico, the survival rate is 19.6 percent, ranking 30th out of 45 states.

“While we celebrate that more Americans than ever are surviving lung cancer, the disease remains the leading cause of cancer deaths for men and women in the U.S.,” said JoAnna Strother, director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in New Mexico.

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. In New Mexico, 18.5 percent of cases are diagnosed at an early stage, putting the state 45th out of 48 states. While this simple screening test has been available since 2015, only 1.4 percent of those eligible in New Mexico have been screened, putting New Mexico at 47th out of 51 states and territories.

“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 percent,” said Strother. “This simple test is a powerful tool to save lives, yet we’re only seeing a fraction of those who qualify actually being screened.”

This year’s report finds that New Mexico must do more to protect residents from lung cancer. Below are the key findings for New Mexico:

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. New Mexico ranks last at 48th out of 48 reporting states with among the bottom with 13.5 percent of cases undergoing surgery as the first course of treatment.

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. New Mexico ranks next to last at 45 out of 46 reporting states with 24.2 percent of cases receiving no 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. Nationally, only 4.2 percent of those who qualify were screened. New Mexico ranked among the lowest with 1.4 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 Bo Smith at [email protected] or 310-359-6386.

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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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