New Report Reveals Lung Cancer Survival Rate Is Too Low in South Carolina

Report also finds Latino community least likely to receive treatment after diagnosis

Today, the American Lung Association in South Carolina released its 2023 “State of Lung Cancer” report, which finds that far too few people in South Carolina are surviving lung cancer. The state’s average survival rate is 24.4%, compared to the national average of 26.6%. Working to increase lung cancer screenings and early diagnosis is key to addressing the burden of lung cancer in South Carolina.

The 6th annual report highlights the toll of lung cancer in South Carolina and examines key indicators including new cases, survival, early diagnosis, surgical treatment, lack of treatment and screening rates.

The report also reveals health disparities, with Latino individuals in South Carolina being most likely to receive no treatment after a lung cancer diagnosis. Additionally, South Carolina ranks poorly for surgery as part of the first course of treatment.

“Lung cancer continues to be the leading cause of cancer deaths here in South Carolina and across the nation. Our recent report makes it clear that we have more work to do to increase lung cancer screening and early detection initiatives, as well as address health disparities in our Latino community,” said Danna Thompson, director of advocacy for South Carolina at the American Lung Association.

The report found that South Carolina ranks:

  • 30 out of 48 in the nation for rate of new lung cancer cases at 58.9 per 100,000. The national rate is 54.6 per 100,000.
  • 29 out of 42 in the nation for survival at 24.4%. The national rate of people alive five years after a lung cancer diagnosis is 26.6%.
  • 33 out of 47 in the nation for early diagnosis at 25.7%. Nationally, only 26.6% of cases are diagnosed at an early stage when the survival rate is much higher.
  • 17 out of 51 in the nation for lung cancer screening at 6.8%. 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 4.5% of those at high risk were screened.
  • 30 out of 47 in the nation for surgery at 18.6%. Lung cancer can often be treated with surgery if it is diagnosed at an early stage and has not spread. Nationally, 20.8% of cases underwent surgery.
  • 30 out of 47 in the nation for lack of treatment at 20.9%. Nationally, 20.6% of cases receive no treatment.
  • 34 out of 51 in the nation for smoking at 15.5%. Nationally, 13.5% of adults currently smoke.

This report only underlines the need for South Carolinians to have access to quality and affordable healthcare coverage. South Carolina lawmakers have an opportunity to support coverage for over 345,000 low-income children, adults, pregnant individuals, people with disabilities and seniors by fully expanding Medicaid.

The 2023 “State of Lung Cancer” report highlights that South Carolina must do more to reduce the burden of lung cancer and encourages everyone to help end lung cancer. Join the Lung Association’s efforts by asking your member of Congress to co-sponsor H.R. 4286, the Increasing Access to Lung Cancer Screening Act at

Nationally, the “State of Lung Cancer” report finds that lung cancer survival rates are improving for everyone, including people of color. In fact, the five-year lung cancer survival rate for people of color has increased by 17% in the last two years, helping close the health disparity gap.

“Thankfully, nationally, the lung cancer survival rate has improved because of increased awareness, improved access to healthcare and cutting-edge research into new treatments for the disease,” added Thompson. “We need to keep up the momentum to save more lives.”

For more information, contact:

Victoria O'Neill
(312) 273-5890
[email protected]

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