American Lung Association’s ‘State of Lung Cancer’ Report Finds that California Must Act to Address Lung Cancer Toll on Residents

The Lung Association’s new report examines toll of lung cancer in California, identifies opportunities to save lives with increasing screening for high risk populations

Lung cancer is the nation’s leading cause of cancer deaths, and it’s estimated that in California 18,040 people 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 California can do more to improve screening rates and access to treatment, particularly among communities of color.

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 California the survival rate is 22.9%. Increasing the screening of high risk populations in California can improve the early detection of lung cancer.

“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 Erica Costa, Advocacy Director for the American Lung Association in California. “Much more can and must be done in California 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. 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, only 22.6% of those eligible in California have been screened and diagnosed at an early stage.

“Lung cancer screening is a powerful tool to save lives,” said Costa. “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 California.”

More treatment options are available for lung cancer than ever before, yet not everyone is receiving treatment following diagnosis. In California 22.9% 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,” Costa 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 Erica Costa at the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 916-585-7677.

For more information, contact:

Erica Costa
[email protected]

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