New Report: Kansas and Greater Kansas City Area Gets Mixed Results for Lung Cancer Rankings

Missouri among best for getting lung cancer treatment; Kansas among worst for high radon test results

The 2021 “State of Lung Cancer” report from the American Lung Association shows that Kansas ranks below average in the nation for high radon test results recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. In addition, the report reveals that Missouri ranks fourth in the nation for receiving lung cancer treatment after being diagnosed.

The 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 Kansas ranked:

  • 19 in the nation (average) for new lung cancer cases at 55.5 per 100,000 people. The national rate of new lung cancer cases is 57.7 per 100,000 people.
  • 22 in the nation (average) for survival at 23.6%. The national average of people alive five years after a lung cancer diagnosis is 23.7%.
  • 13 in the nation (average) for lung cancer screening at 7.8%. 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.

The report found that Missouri ranked:

  • 4 in the nation (top) for lack of treatment at 15.9%. Nationally, 21.1% of cases receive no treatment.
  • 45 in the nation (below average) for new lung cancer cases at 71 per 100,000 people. The national rate of new lung cancer cases is 57.7 per 100,000 people.
  • 32 in the nation (below average) for survival at 21.6%. The national average of people alive five years after a lung cancer diagnosis is 23.7%.
  • 21 in the nation (average) for early diagnosis at 24.8%. Nationally, only 24.5% of cases are diagnosed at an early stage when the five-year survival rate is much higher.
  • 18 in the nation (average) for lung cancer screening at 7.5%. 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.
  • 35 in the nation (below average) for surgery at 18%. 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.
  • In Missouri, Black Americans are least likely to receive surgical treatment at 13.6%. 

The report shows nationally that people of color who are diagnosed with lung cancer face worse outcomes compared to white Americans. It 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 Sara Prem, advocacy director at the Lung Association. “Much more can and must be done in Kansas and Greater Kansas City to prevent the disease and support those facing the disease, like increase radon testing and reduce tobacco use through proven prevention and quit smoking programs.” 

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. In July 2020, Kansas made lung cancer screenings available to all Kansas Medicaid recipients who are at high risk for lung cancer at no cost.

For more information, contact:

Dana Kauffman
312-940-7624
[email protected]

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