New Report: Black Americans in Illinois are Least Likely to Get Surgery for Lung Cancer

“State of Lung Cancer” report examines toll of disease in Illinois, identifies opportunities to save lives

The 2021 “State of Lung Cancer” report shows nationally that people of color who are diagnosed with lung cancer face worse outcomes compared to white Americans, and that Black Americans in Illinois are least likely to receive surgical treatment. 

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 Illinois ranked:

  • 35 in the nation (average) for new lung cancer cases at 63.4 per 100,000 people. The national rate of new lung cancer cases is 57.7 per 100,000 people.
  • 16 in the nation (average) for survival at 24.5%. The national average of people alive five years after a lung cancer diagnosis is 23.7%.
  • 16 in the nation (average) for early diagnosis at 25.2%. Nationally, only 24.5% of cases are diagnosed at an early stage when the five-year survival rate is much higher.
  • 26 in the nation (average) for lung cancer screening at 6.3%. 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.
  • 18 in the nation (average) for surgery at 20.8%. 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.
  • 11 in the nation (above average) for lack of treatment at 17.8%. Nationally, 21.1% of cases receive no treatment.
  • In Illinois, Black Americans are less likely to receive surgical treatment than white Americans (16.4% vs. 21.3%, respectively).

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 Kristina Hamilton, advocacy director at the Lung Association. “Much more can and must be done in Illinois to prevent the disease and support those facing the disease, like increased funding for lung cancer treatment and prevention to help save lives.”

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 because private insurers will now be required to cover the procedure for a wider range of people.

For more information, contact:

Dana Kauffman
[email protected]

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