New Report Reveals Pennsylvania Among Leaders in the Nation for Lung Cancer Survival, Screening and Treatment; Lags Behind in Radon Levels

American Lung Association examines toll of lung cancer in Pennsylvania, underscores urgent need for more high-risk people to be screened to increase survivorship.

The 2023 “State of Lung Cancer” report reveals that Pennsylvania ranks 8th in the nation for lung cancer screening, 10th for survival and 7th for treatment. This means that Pennsylvania is among the best tiers in the nation for these indicators, however much more work is needed to reduce the burden of lung cancer. The American Lung Association’s 6th annual report, released today, highlights the toll of lung cancer in Pennsylvania and examines key indicators including new cases, survival, early diagnosis, surgical treatment, lack of treatment and screening rates.

The report also found that Pennsylvania ranked poorly for radon test results lower than the EPA recommended action level at 39 out of 51 states. Additionally, while the state is in the average tier for early diagnosis at 20 out of 47 states measured, Asian or Pacific Islander individuals in the Commonwealth are least likely to be diagnosed early (24% less likely than white individuals), when the five-year survival rate is much higher. Nationally, the “State of Lung Cancer” report found that lung cancer survival rates are improving for everyone, including people of color. In fact, the five-year lung cancer survival rate for people of color has increased by 17% in the last two years, helping close the health disparity gap.

“Thankfully, in Pennsylvania, the lung cancer survival rate has improved because of increased awareness, improved access to healthcare and cutting-edge research into new treatments for the disease,” said Aimee, VanCleave, Director of Advocacy, PA at the American Lung Association. “However, lung cancer is still the leading cause of cancer deaths here both in Pennsylvania and across the nation, and our recent report makes it clear that we have more work to do to defeat lung cancer including closing the loopholes in the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act to protect Pennsylvanians from secondhand smoke and making sure that no one is left behind in efforts to improve lung cancer survival.

The report found that Pennsylvania ranked:

  • 33 out of 48 in the nation for rate of new lung cancer cases at 60 per 100,000, marking a 20% improvement over the past five years. The national rate is 54.6 per 100,000.
  • 10 out of 42 in the nation for survival at 28.8%, marking a 27% improvement over the past five years. The national rate of people alive five years after a lung cancer diagnosis is 26.6%.
  • 20 out of 47 in the nation for early diagnosis at 27.3%, which marks a 10% improvement over the past five years. Nationally, only 26.6% of cases are diagnosed at an early stage when the survival rate is much higher.
  • 8 out of 51 in the nation for lung cancer screening at 7.4%. Lung cancer screening with annual low-dose CT scans for those at high risk can reduce the lung cancer death rate by up to 20%. Nationally, only 4.5% of those at high risk were screened.
  • 11 out of 47 in the nation for surgery at 22.5%, worsening 6% over the past five years. Lung cancer can often be treated with surgery if it is diagnosed at an early stage and has not spread. Nationally, 20.8% of cases underwent surgery.
  • 7 out of 47 in the nation for lack of treatment at 16.7%, marking a 16% improvement over the past five years, and ranking among the best for this tier. Nationally, 20.6% of cases receive no treatment.
  • 27 out of 51 in the nation for adults who currently smoke at 14.4%, which is average compared to other states. Nationally, 13.5% of adults are current smokers.
  • 39 out of 51 in the nation for its radon test results compared to the EPA recommended action level at 39.1%, placing the state in the below average tier compared to other states, with a relatively high percentage of results (39.1%) equal to or worse than the EPA guideline. 

“Now is the time to act to protect the health of Pennsylvanians as countless workers in the state are exposed to cancer-causing chemicals, toxins and carcinogens in their workplace every day due to exemptions in legislation that allow people to smoke indoors at trucks stops, private clubs and casinos and more. As long as these exemptions remain in place, workers are forced to choose every day between their paycheck and health,” said Van Cleave. “Our legislators have an important opportunity to take steps to protect our workers from exposure to secondhand smoke by advancing House Bill 1657, which will close our indoor air policy loopholes.”

The 2023 “State of Lung Cancer” report highlights that Pennsylvania must do more to reduce the burden of lung cancer and encourages everyone to help end lung cancer. Join the Lung Association’s efforts by asking your member of Congress to co-sponsor H.R. 4286, the Increasing Access to Lung Cancer Screening Act at Lung.org/SOLC.

Get involved and help the mission of the American Lung Association. The Fight For Air Climb in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are coming up. The Fight For Air Climb Philadelphia will be held on April 6, 2024 at Three Logan Square, learn more at FightForAirClimb.org/philadelphia. The Fight For Air Climb Pittsburgh is March 23, 2024 at One Oxford Centre, visit FightForAirClimb.org/pittsburgh to learn more.

For more information, contact:

Valerie Gleason
717-971-1123
[email protected]

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