New Report: Kentucky Has Highest Lung Cancer Incidence Rate in the Nation

“State of Lung Cancer” report examines toll of lung cancer in Kentucky, identifies opportunities to save lives

The 2021 “State of Lung Cancer” report shows that Kentucky has the highest incidence rate in the US, incidence refers to the number of new cases of lung cancer in each state. On the complete other side of the scale, Kentucky ranks 2 in the nation for lung cancer screening, which helps save lives.

The American Lung Association’s 4th annual 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.

The report found that Kentucky ranked:

  • 51 in the nation (last) for lung cancer incidence at 89.4 per 100,000 people. 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 people.
  • 41 in the nation (bottom) for survival at 29.3%. The national average of people alive five years after a lung cancer diagnosis is 23.7%.
  • 45 in the nation (below average) for early diagnosis at 21.5%. Nationally, only 24.5% of cases are diagnosed at an early stage when the five-year survival rate is much higher.
  • 2 in the nation (top) for lung cancer screening at 14.6%. 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.
  • 23 in the nation (average) for surgery at 19.8%. 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.
  • 18 in the nation (above average) for lack of treatment at 18.8%. Nationally, 21.1% of cases receive no treatment.

The report 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.

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.

“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 Shannon Baker, advocacy director at the Lung Association. “Much more can and must be done in Kentucky to prevent the disease and support those facing the disease, like increasing funding for the state tobacco prevention and cessation programs, and repealing the state law that prohibits local governments from passing any tobacco control ordinances in their own cities and counties.”

While the “State of Lung Cancer” report findings show significant work needs 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.

For more information, contact:

James A. Martinez
(312) 445-2501
[email protected]

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