New Report: Oklahoma Has Some of the Worst Lung Cancer Survival Rates in the Nation, Ranks at Bottom in Lung Cancer Screening, Early Diagnosis

Lung Association’s new report examines toll of lung cancer in Oklahoma, identifies opportunities to save lives with Medicaid Expansion

Today, the American Lung Association released the annual “State of Lung Cancer” Report, which indicates that Oklahoma ranks very poorly in lung cancer survival rates (41st out of 47), early diagnosis (46th out of 49) and lung cancer screening rates (46th out of 49). In addition, the state ranks poorly in catching lung cancer early among the Black community.

Lung cancer is the nation’s leading cause of cancer deaths, and it’s estimated that 3,200 Oklahomans 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 Oklahoma can do more to improve screening rates for Indigenous Peoples and people of color through Medicaid Expansion.

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 Oklahoma the survival rate is 18.6%, slightly lower than the national average. With voter’s decision to expand access to lung cancer screenings through Medicaid Expansion, Oklahomans will soon have another tool to tackle this problem.

“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 Charlie Gagen, Advocacy Director, American Lung Association. “Much more can and must be done in Oklahoma to prevent the disease and support those facing the disease.” Indigenous Peoples, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Oklahoma are the least likely to diagnosed early, a key strategy in fighting this aggressive 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 1.7% of those eligible in Oklahoma have been screened.

“Lung cancer screening is a powerful tool to save lives,” said Gagen. “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 Oklahoma.”

More treatment options are available for lung cancer than ever before, yet not everyone is receiving treatment following diagnosis. In Oklahoma, 18% 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,” Gagen 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 James Martinez at the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 312-445-2501.

For more information, contact:

James A. Martinez
(312) 445-2501
[email protected]

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