'State of Lung Cancer' 2019 Report Finds Alaska has One of the Worst 5-Year Lung Cancer Survival Rates in the Nation
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) - ANCHORAGE, Alaska
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Alaska ranks near the bottom of the country with the five-year lung cancer survival rate at 17.6 percent. An estimated 400 Alaskans 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” report 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. Alaska ranks 41st out of 45 states that provided data. The 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, the disease remains the leading cause of cancer deaths in men and women in the U.S., and much more can and must be done in Alaska to prevent the disease and support families facing the disease,” said Carrie Nyssen, senior director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Alaska.
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. Alaska has the worst early stage at diagnosis rate in the nation with 16.6 percent. 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. This simple screening test has been available since 2015, but only 3.6 percent of those eligible in Alaska have been screened.
“Lung cancer screening is a powerful tool to save lives, yet we’re only seeing a fraction of those who qualify actually getting screened,” Nyssen said. “Nationwide, if everyone at high risk were screened, nearly 48,000 lives would be saved.”
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 Alaska can and must do more to protect residents from lung cancer. Below are the key findings for Alaska:
• 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. Alaska ranks among the lowest states with 17.6 percent survival rate.
• Early Diagnosis: Nationally, only 21.5 percent of cases are diagnosed at an early stage when the five-year survival rate is much higher (57.7 percent). Unfortunately, about 48.5 percent of cases are not caught until a late stage when the survival rate is only 6 percent. Alaska ranks among the lowest with 16.6 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. Alaska ranks among the bottom 45th of 48 states with 15.7 percent.
• 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. Alaska ranked 36th out of 51 with 3.6 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.
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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