North Carolina Ranks Among Worst States for New Lung Cancer Cases, According to New Report

American Lung Association examines toll of lung cancer in North Carolina, underscores urgent need for more people to be screened

The 2022 “State of Lung Cancer” report reveals that North Carolina ranks 40th in the nation for new lung cancer cases. The American Lung Association’s 5th annual report, released today, highlights the toll of lung cancer in North Carolina and examines key indicators including new cases, survival, early diagnosis, surgical treatment, lack of treatment and screening rates.

Nationally, the “State of Lung Cancer” report shows continued progress for lung cancer survival. The lung cancer five-year survival rate is now 25% and increased 21% from 2014 to 2018. Here in North Carolina, the lung cancer survival rate is similar to the national average at 24.6%. The report also highlights that people of color who are diagnosed with lung cancer face worse outcomes compared to white Americans, including lower survival rate, less likely to be diagnosed early, less likely to receive surgical treatment and more likely to receive no treatment. In North Carolina, Indigenous Peoples are least likely to receive surgical treatment.

“Lung cancer screening is key to early diagnosis, and early diagnosis saves lives. Unfortunately, here in North Carolina, not enough people are getting this lifesaving screening,” said Markus Hill, Chair of the North Carolina Local Leadership Board, American Lung Association and Chief Information Officer, Rodgers Builders. “We all can help reduce the burden of lung cancer in North Carolina. If you are eligible for lung cancer screening, we encourage you to speak with your doctor about it. If a loved one is eligible, please encourage them to get screened.”

Currently,14.2 million Americans meet the US Preventive Services Task Force guidelines for screening. Under these guidelines, a person is eligible for lung cancer screening if they are between 50-80 years of age, have a 20 pack-year history (1 pack/day for 20 years, 2 packs/day for 10 years) and are a current smoker, or have quit within the last 15 years. Find out if you are eligible for lung cancer screening at SavedByTheScan.org.

The report found that North Carolina ranked:

  • 40th in the nation for rate of new lung cancer cases at 65.3 per 100,000. The national rate is 56.7 per 100,000.
  • 21st in the nation for survival at 24.6%. The national rate of people alive five years after a lung cancer diagnosis is 25%.
  • 25th in the nation for early diagnosis at 25.8%. Nationally, only 25.8% of cases are diagnosed at an early stage when the survival rate is much higher.
  • 16th in the nation for lung cancer screening at 8.1%. 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 5.8% of those at high risk were screened.
  • 28th in the nation for surgery at 19.3%. 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.
  • 12th in the nation for lack of treatment at 17.4%. Nationally, 20.6% of cases receive no treatment.

Another noteworthy rating identified for North Carolina is the radon action level. 13.5% of homes in North Carolina are above the recommended action level by the EPA for radon. And while this is above average, more work should be done. The only way to know one’s radon level is to test, so the Lung Association recommends all homes, schools, and workplaces should be tested, and high levels, if confirmed, should be reduced. Most will get good news, but every now and then, high values will be found and should be fixed. 

“State of Lung Cancer” highlights that North Carolina must do more to reduce the burden of lung cancer and encourages everyone to join the effort to end lung cancer. Learn more about the report, and email President Biden to thank him for his leadership on the Cancer Moonshot Initiative and urge him to work to increase lung cancer screening for individuals at high risk at Lung.org/solc.

Media Resources
Lung cancer and lung cancer screening b-roll is available here: LungCancerB-roll_Final.mp4 | Powered by Box
American Lung Association logos are available here: Media | American Lung Association
 

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