The 2021 “State of Lung Cancer” report shows that people of color who are diagnosed with lung cancer face worse outcomes compared to whites. In Colorado, Latinos are least likely to be diagnosed early for lung cancer which can affect their mortality rates.
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. 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 found that Colorado ranked:
4th in the nation (above average) for lung cancer incidence at 40.7 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.
6th in the nation (above average) for survival at 26.6%. The national average of people alive five years after a lung cancer diagnosis is 23.7%.
6th in the nation (above average) for early diagnosis at 27%. Nationally, only 24.5% of cases are diagnosed at an early stage when the five-year survival rate is much higher.
38th in the nation (below average) for lung cancer screening at 3.5%. 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.
14th in the nation (average) for surgery at 21.6%. 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.
21st in the nation (above average) for lack of treatment at 19.3%. 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.
“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 JoAnna Strother, advocacy senior director at the Lung Association. “Much more can and must be done in Colorado to prevent the disease and support those facing the disease, like making sure everyone has access to quality and affordable healthcare and ensuring everyone who is at high risk is screened for lung cancer.”
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.
About the American Lung Association
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, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.