American Lung Association Finds That Georgia Can do More to Reduce the Toll of Lung Cancer — the #1 Cancer Killer of Women and Men2018 'State of Lung Cancer report shows how lung cancer rates vary across the country, and what Georgia can do to better support lung cancer patients and those at high risk
ATLANTA, GA | February 28, 2018
Every two and a half minutes someone in the United States will be diagnosed with lung cancer. The American Lung Association’s inaugural LUNG FORCE “State of Lung Cancer” report is the first time that these national and state lung cancer statistics have been analyzed in one report to show how the toll of lung cancer varies across the country, and how Georgia can do more to protect their residents from lung cancer.
“There will be over 7,160 people in Georgia diagnosed with lung cancer and 4,650 will succumb to the deadly disease in 2018. More must be done to save lives,” said American Lung Association Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Health Promotions, June Deen. “The American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE initiative was created to help defeat lung cancer - the leading cause of cancer deaths - and this new report outlines what we need to do to succeed - tackling both the disease and its risk factors as well as supporting access to preventative health services and treatment options.”
The LUNG FORCE “State of Lung Cancer” 2018 report finds that lung cancer diagnosis and survival rates vary state by state. It also highlights that some states are yet to report on all of the key lung cancer indicators. By better understanding the impact of lung cancer at the state level, we can enact policies and focus attention where the need is greatest. This report covers the following measures of lung cancer burden, and shows where Georgia ranks in comparison to the rest of the United States:
- Incidence: On average, the higher prevalence of smoking, the more lung cancer cases in a state. Georgia ranks 32 out of 50 states and the District of Columbia with a lung cancer incidence of 67.7 per 100,000 people, which parallels the current smoking rate of 17.9 percent. There are a variety of risk factors associated with lung cancer, including smoking, exposure to radon gas, air pollution and secondhand smoke. Radon testing and mitigation, healthy air protections, and reducing the smoking rate through tobacco tax increases, smokefree air laws and access to comprehensive quit smoking services are all effective ways to prevent new lung cancer cases.
- Survival Rate: Lung cancer is often not caught at an early stage when it is more likely to be curable. The five-year lung cancer survival rate ranges from 24 percent in New York to 15.9 percent in Louisiana, with Georgia at 18.1 percent. Yet only 31 states track this important metric, which should be implemented by all states to enhance monitoring of lung cancer, and help identify how to improve lung cancer survival.
- Stage at Diagnosis: People diagnosed at early stages of lung cancer are five times more likely to survive, but unfortunately only 18.9 percent of lung cancer cases nationally are diagnosed at an early stage. In Georgia, only 18.4 percent of lung cancer cases were diagnosed at early stages, when it is most likely to be curable.
- Screening Centers: The availability of accredited lung cancer screening sites has been shown to be positively related to survival of lung cancer, with each additional screening site per million people being associated with a 0.3 percentage point increase in the lung cancer survival rate. Georgia ranks 31 out of 50 states and the District of Columbia, with 3.8 screening centers per million people. Raising awareness of these screening facilities, as well as criteria for low-dose CT scans, can improve patient outcomes.
- Surgical Treatment: Lung cancer is more likely to be curable if the tumor can be surgically removed, and surgery is more likely to be an option if the diagnosis is made at an early stage before the cancer has spread. In Georgia, 20.3 percent of cases underwent surgery as part of the first course of treatment, ranking 24 out of 48 states and the District of Columbia. Quality healthcare and new treatment options for lung cancer are needed to increase survival rates.
“While we have seen some advancements in lung cancer treatment options and a new method of early detection, the burden of lung cancer is not the same everywhere,” said Deen. “Treatment, exposure to risk factors, and access to screening facilities vary from state to state, and Georgia’s leaders must do more to act and implement proven policies to reduce the deadly toll of lung cancer.”
On Wednesday, March 14, lung cancer survivor La'Kesha Johnson, from Decatur, will be heading to Capitol Hill to share her story and these startling statistics with her members of Congress. LUNG FORCE Heroes from all 50 states will be asking Congress to support increased funding for the National Institutes of Health for better treatment and early detection of lung cancer, as well as sharing why quality and affordable healthcare is especially important for lung cancer patients.
"At the age of 43, a malignant nodule was found in my lung,” said Johnson. “The nodule was removed and was found to be Stage 1A. The drastic increase in middle-aged women who are non-smokers or former smokers is alarming. As a middle-aged woman who never smoked, I am advocating for more research and increased awareness."
The LUNG FORCE “State of Lung Cancer” report is both a guide post and rallying cry, providing policymakers, researchers, healthcare practitioners, as well as patients, caregivers and others committed to ending lung cancer, with a one-stop resource for identifying how their state can best focus to support lung cancer patients – like La'Kesha Johnson, their caregivers, and those at high risk for lung cancer.
For media interested in speaking with an expert about the LUNG FORCE “State of Lung Cancer” report, or La'Kesha Johnson on her upcoming trip to Washington, D.C., contact the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 470-233-7030.
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.