American Lung Association’s ‘State of Lung Cancer’ Report Finds Delaware Among Worst States for Lung Cancer New Cases and Surgery, Among Best for Early Diagnosis and Screening

American Lung Association’s new report examines toll of lung cancer in Delaware, identifies opportunities to save lives

Lung cancer is the nation’s leading cause of cancer deaths, and it’s estimated that 890 Delaware residents will be diagnosed with this disease in 2020 alone. The 2020 “State of Lung Cancer” report from the American Lung Association finds that while more Americans are surviving the disease, people of color are facing poorer health outcomes than white residents, and that Delaware can do more to improve lung cancer new incidence and surgical treatment rates.

The 3rd annual “State of Lung Cancer” report examines the toll of lung cancer throughout the nation and outlines steps every state can take to better protect its residents from lung cancer. For the first time, this year’s report explores the lung cancer burden among racial and ethnic groups at the national and state levels.

This year’s “State of Lung Cancer” highlights the positive trend of increased lung cancer survival, as the nationwide five-year lung cancer survival rate of 22.6% reflects a 13% improvement over the past five years. In Delaware, the survival rate is average at 23.1%, ranking 17 out of 47 states measured. Delaware’s new case incidence rate is higher than the national average (67.4 per 100,000 people compared to 58.7 respectively), ranking 39 out of 51 states. Current lung cancer incidence rates may result from elevated smoking rates from decades ago, increased exposure to other causes of lung cancer, such as radon and air pollution, or other factors.

“While we celebrate that more Americans are surviving lung cancer, too many people are being left behind, and the disease still remains the leading cause of cancer deaths,” said Deborah Brown, Chief Mission Officer, American Lung Association. “Much more can and must be done in Delaware to prevent the disease and support those facing the disease.”  

Part of the reason that lung cancer is so deadly is because most cases are diagnosed at a later stage, after the disease has spread. Early diagnosis in Delaware is among the best in the nation at 26% (5 out of 49 states measured). Cases that are diagnosed at an earlier stage before the tumor has spread are more likely to be eligible for surgery, though Delaware’s surgery rates as first course of treatment are below average at 18.4% (34 of 49).

Lung cancer screening is the key to catching lung cancer early when the disease is most curable, but only 22.9% of lung cancer cases nationally are diagnosed at an early stage. While this simple screening test has been available since 2015, and Delaware ranks above average compared to other states, only 8.6% of those eligible in Delaware have been screened.

“Lung cancer screening is a powerful tool to save lives,” said  Brown. “It’s a relatively new test, and we’re only seeing a fraction of those who qualify actually getting screened. We’re pushing for greater awareness of this test to save more lives here in Delaware.

More treatment options are available for lung cancer than ever before, yet not everyone is receiving treatment following diagnosis. In Delaware, 15.5% of those diagnosed did not receive any form of treatment.

“We want to ensure that everyone has access to treatment options and quality and affordable healthcare. No one who wants care should have to forgo treatment due to lack of access or cost,” Brown said.

Learn more about "State of Lung Cancer" at For media interested in speaking with a lung cancer expert about advances in lung cancer and the "State of Lung Cancer" 2020 report or lung cancer survivor about their experience, contact Val Gleason at the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 717-971-1123.

* Editor’s Note: Although this report did not indicate that Delaware had substantial lung cancer racial health disparities for these lung cancer metrics, every state can do more to reduce the burden.

For more information, contact:

Bo Smith
[email protected]

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