American Lung Association’s ‘State of Lung Cancer’ Report Finds Pennsylvania  Among Best States for Lung Cancer Screening and Survival

American Lung Association’s new report examines toll of lung cancer in Pennsylvania, identifies opportunities to save lives through screenings and by addressing racial lung health disparities and data

Lung cancer is the nation’s leading cause of cancer deaths, and it’s estimated that 10,710 Pennsylvania 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. Pennsylvania can do more to improve lung health racial disparities with early diagnosis and surgical treatment as well as resolve data quality issues and improve screening 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 Pennsylvania the survival rate is above average at 23.7%, reflecting a 14% improvement over the last five years. 

The new case incident rate in the state is average at 63.9 per 100,000 people; however, the study finds that Black Pennsylvanians are 20% more likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer than white Pennsylvanians.

Part of the reason lung cancer is so deadly is because most cases are diagnosed at a later stage, after the disease has spread. Early diagnosis in Pennsylvania is among the average at 23%,  and reflects a 36% improvement over the last five years; however, Asian American or Pacific Islanders are 21% less likely to be diagnosed early compared to white Pennsylvanians. The report findings make it clear that more must be done in the state to address racial disparities with this number one cancer killer in the nation. 

“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 Molly Pisciottano, Director of Advocacy, PA, WV, American Lung Association. “Much more can and must be done in Pennsylvania to prevent the disease and support those who are facing the disease. We urge Pennsylvania to improve lung cancer screening rates, address its lung cancer data quality issues and lung health racial disparities to increase survival rates for all residents.” 

Lung cancer can often be treated with surgery if it is diagnosed at an early stage, and has not spread. Pennsylvania ranked among the average at 22.6% (10 out of 49 stages measured) for surgery as first course of treatment. The study also finds that Black Pennsylvanians are 14% less likely to receive surgical treatment compared to white Pennsylvanians. 

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 Pennsylvania screening rates are above average (ranking 12 out of 49 states), only 8.7% of those eligible in Pennsylvania have been screened.  

“Lung cancer screening is a powerful tool to save lives,” said Pisciottano. “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 Pennsylvania.” 

More treatment options are available for lung cancer than ever before, yet not everyone is receiving treatment following diagnosis. In Pennsylvania there is no data collection available for lung cancer treatment after diagnosis, an important tool for gauging patient access to affordable, quality care. 

“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,” Pisciottano 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.

For more information, contact:

Valerie Gleason
[email protected]

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