"State of Lung Cancer” Report Reveals that Massachusetts Leads the Nation Early Diagnosis, But Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders are 31% Less Likely to be Diagnosed Early than White Americans

Lung Association report examines toll of lung cancer in Massachusetts, identifies opportunities to save lives

The American Lung Association’s 4th annual “State of Lung Cancer” report, released today, highlights how the toll of lung cancer varies by state and examines key indicators throughout the U.S. including: new cases, survival, early diagnosis, surgical treatment, lack of treatment and screening rates, as well as the disproportionate impact of lung cancer on communities of color.  The report found that Massachusetts leads the nation, ranking as #1 in three categories: early diagnosis, surgical treatment and screening for high-risk individuals, but that Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders more likely to be left behind.  Despite high state rankings, Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders are 31% less likely than white Americans to be diagnosed early, when lung cancer is most treatable. 

The 2021 “State of Lung Cancer” report found that, nationally, people of color who are diagnosed with lung cancer face worse outcomes compared to whites.  This is the second year that the “State of Lung Cancer” report explores the lung cancer burden among racial and ethnic minority groups at the national and state levels.

The report also reveals that the lung cancer five-year survival rate increased 14.5% nationally to 23.7% yet remains significantly lower among communities of color. In fact, while the national lung cancer survival rate increased, it remains at only 20% for communities of color and 18% for Black Americans. 

“While we celebrate that more Americans are surviving lung cancer, too many people are being left behind, and the disease remains the leading cause of cancer deaths,” said Trevor Summerfield, director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Massachusetts. “In Massachusetts we have a clear disparities impacting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, which simply goes to show that there is much more work to do to prevent the disease and support those facing it.  Ensuring that everyone – in every community - has access to quality and affordable healthcare is critically important if we want to save lives.”

The report found that Massachusetts ranked:

  • 1 in the nation for early diagnosis with 30.3% of cases being diagnosed early. Nationally, only 24.5% of cases are diagnosed at an early stage when the five-year survival rate is much higher.
  • 1 in the nation for lung cancer screening with 17.8% of those at high risk being screened. 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 5.7% of those at high risk were screened.
  • 1 in the nation for surgery at 30.9%. Lung cancer can often be treated with surgery if it is diagnosed at an early stage and has not spread. Nationally, 20.7% of cases underwent surgery.
  • 3 in the nation for lack of treatment with 15.1% of cases receiving no treatment. Nationally, 21.1% of cases receive no treatment.
  • 29 in the nation for lung cancer incidence at 60.9 per 100,000. Incidence refers to the number of new cases of lung cancer in each state. The national lung cancer incidence is 57.7 per 100,000.
  • The national average of people alive five years after a lung cancer diagnosis is 23.7%. Massachusetts does not track 5-Year Survival rate.
  • In Massachusetts, Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders are 31% less likely than white Americans to be diagnosed early

While the “State of Lung Cancer” report findings show significant work to be done, there is hope. In March of 2021, the United States Preventive Services Task Force expanded its recommendation for screening to include a larger age range and more current or former smokers. This dramatically increased the number of women and Black Americans who are eligible for lung cancer screening.

The Lung Association encourages everyone to join the effort to end lung cancer. Go to Lung.org/solc to learn more about lung cancer in your state and sign our petition to increase funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to protect our nation’s health from disease, including lung cancer.

For current and former smokers, there are lifesaving resources available. Find out if you are eligible for lung cancer screening at SavedByTheScan.org, and then talk to your doctor about getting screened. 

Learn more about "State of Lung Cancer" at Lung.org/solc. For media interested in speaking with a lung cancer expert about advances in lung cancer and the "State of Lung Cancer" 2021 report or lung cancer survivor about their experience, contact Jennifer Solomon at the American Lung Association at [email protected] or  516-680-8927

For more information, contact:

Jennifer Solomon
(516) 680-8927
[email protected]

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