New Report Reveals Alabama Is 2nd Worst in Nation in Lung Cancer Survival

American Lung Association’s annual report also finds Black community least likely to receive surgical treatment

Today, the American Lung Association released its 2023 “State of Lung Cancer” report, which finds that far too few people in Alabama are surviving lung cancer. The state’s average survival rate is 21.3%, compared to the national average of 26.6%. Alabama ranks second to last in the nation, or 41 out of 42, for lung cancer survival. Working to increase lung cancer screenings and early diagnosis is key to addressing the burden of lung cancer in Alabama.

The 6th annual report highlights the toll of lung cancer in Alabama and examines key indicators including new cases, survival, early diagnosis, surgical treatment, lack of treatment and screening rates.

The report also reveals health disparities, with Black individuals in Alabama being least likely to receive surgery as the first course of treatment. Additionally, Alabama ranks poorly for early diagnosis and has an above average rate of smoking.

“Lung cancer continues to be the leading cause of cancer deaths here in Alabama and across the nation. Our recent report makes it clear that we have more work to do to increase lung cancer screening and early detection initiatives, as well as address health disparities in our Black community,” said Ashley Lyerly, senior director of advocacy for Alabama at the American Lung Association.

The report found that Alabama ranks:

  • 35 out of 48 in the nation for rate of new lung cancer cases at 60.5 per 100,000. The national rate is 54.6 per 100,000.
  • 41 out of 42 in the nation for survival at 21.3%. The national rate of people alive five years after a lung cancer diagnosis is 26.6%.
  • 36 out of 47 in the nation for early diagnosis at 25.1%. Nationally, only 26.6% of cases are diagnosed at an early stage when the survival rate is much higher.
  • 29 out of 51 in the nation for lung cancer screening at 4.4%. 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.
  • 40 out of 47 in the nation for surgery at 16.4%. 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.
  • 37 out of 47 in the nation for lack of treatment at 22.2%. Nationally, 20.6% of cases receive no treatment.
  • 42 out of 51 in the nation for smoking at 17.2%. Nationally, 13.5% of adults currently smoke.


This report emphasizes the need for the Alabama Medicaid Agency to include annual low-dose CT scans for lung cancer screening as a covered service for all individuals at high risk without any administrative or financial barriers. Lung cancer screening with low-dose CT scans has been shown to save lives, reducing the lung cancer death rate by up to 20%. Early detection and treatment of lung cancer translates into higher survival rates.

The 2023 “State of Lung Cancer” report highlights that Alabama 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

Nationally, the “State of Lung Cancer” report finds 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, the national lung cancer survival rate has improved because of increased awareness, improved access to healthcare and cutting-edge research into new treatments for the disease,” added Lyerly. “We need to keep up the momentum to save more lives.”

For more information, contact:

Victoria O'Neill
(312) 273-5890
[email protected]

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