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'State of Lung Cancer' 2019 Report Finds that Lung Cancer Survival Rates Continue to Improve

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) - SEATTLE, Wash.

For more information please contact:

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

An estimated 4,400 people in Washington, will be diagnosed with lung cancer 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 Washington, the survival rate is 22.5 percent. This annual 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.

“While we celebrate that more Americans than ever are surviving lung cancer, it remains the leading cause of cancer deaths in men and women in the U.S.,” said Carrie Nyssen, senior director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Washington. “Much more must be done to prevent lung cancer and support families facing the disease.” 

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 3.8 percent of those eligible in Washington have been screened. 

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

The "State of Lung Cancer" 2019 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 Washington must do more to protect residents from lung cancer. Some key findings for Washington include:

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 and Washington ranks lower at 19.4 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. Washington ranks in the bottom of the country with 20.3 percent of cases receiving no treatment. 

Learn more about "State of Lung Cancer" at Lung.org/solc. For media interested in speaking with a lung health expert or lung cancer survivor about their experience, contact Holly Harvey at [email protected] or 206-512-3292.

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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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