New Report Reveals New Mexico Lags Behind Country in Early Diagnosis and Treatment of Lung Cancer

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

The 2023 “State of Lung Cancer” report reveals that New Mexico ranks 47th in the nation for lack of treatment and surgical intervention. This means that New Mexico is among the worst in the nation for treatment, so 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 New Mexico and examines key indicators including new cases, survival, early diagnosis, surgical treatment, lack of treatment and screening rates.

The report also found that New Mexico ranked 43rd in the nation for lung cancer screening and 46th in the nation for early diagnosis. In New Mexico, Indigenous Peoples are most likely to receive no treatment. 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 New Mexico, 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 JoAnna Strother, Senior Director of Advocacy for the American Lung Association in New Mexico. “However, lung cancer is still the leading cause of cancer deaths here in New Mexico and across the nation, and our recent report makes it clear that we have more work to do to focus advancing treatment and surgical intervention.”

The report found that New Mexico ranked:

  • 2 out of 48 in the nation for rate of new lung cancer cases at 33.98 per 100,000. The national rate is 54.6 per 100,000.
  • 31 out of 42 in the nation for survival at 23.9%. The national rate of people alive five years after a lung cancer diagnosis is 26.6%.
  • 46 out of 47 in the nation for early diagnosis at 21.3%. Nationally, only 26.6% of cases are diagnosed at an early stage when the survival rate is much higher.
  • 43 out of 51 in the nation for lung cancer screening at 1.9%. 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.
  • 47 out of 47 in the nation for surgery at 13.5%. 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.
  • 47 out of 47 in the nation for lack of treatment at 31.5%. Nationally, 20.6% of cases receive no treatment.

The 2023 “State of Lung Cancer” report highlights that New Mexico 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

On December 2, the Lung Association in collaboration with the New Mexico Cancer Center will be hosting a free lung screening event. To find out more, please visit

Get involved and help the mission of the American Lung Association. The Fight For Air Climb in Albuquerque is coming up on April 20th, 2024. Learn more at

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