American Lung Association’s ‘State of Lung Cancer’ Report Finds Vermont Lung Cancer Cases Among Least Likely to Receive Treatment

American Lung Association’s new report examines toll of lung cancer in Vermont identifies opportunities to save lives through more access to and options for treatment

Lung cancer is the nation’s leading cause of cancer deaths, and it’s estimated that 570 Vermont residents will be diagnosed with this disease in 2020 alone. The 2020 “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. While the report found that more Americans are surviving the disease it also found that in Vermont, an astounding 19.7% of lung cancer cases receive no treatment, and only 18.7% of cases receive surgery as a first course of treatment.    

For the first time, the annual “State of Lung Cancer” report also explores the lung cancer burden among racial and ethnic groups at the national and state levels.  Although this report did not indicate that Vermont had substantial lung cancer health disparities, it did find that nationally people of color are facing poorer health outcomes than white residents. 

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 Vermont the survival rate is 24.1% with an early diagnosis rate of 24%.

“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 Alex Crimmin, Specialist for Health Promotions for the American Lung Association in Vermont. “Much more can and must be done in Vermont to prevent the disease and support those facing the disease.”

Dr. Anne Dixon, Pulmonologist and Medical Director for Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Vermont Medical Center said, “This report is good news for Vermont in 3 categories: survival rate, early stage diagnosis, and the rate of high-risk patients receiving screening – and they are all connected.  To continue this progress we must ensure that everyone who is diagnosed with lung cancer receives some sort of treatment.  19.7% of our local lung cancer diagnoses are not being treated at all, and that’s an important area we must focus on.”

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 13.8% of those eligible in Vermont have been screened.

“Lung cancer screening is a powerful tool to save lives,” said Dixon. “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 Vermont.”

More treatment options are available for lung cancer than ever before, yet not everyone is receiving treatment following diagnosis. In Vermont 19.7% 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,” Crimmin said.

Learn more about "State of Lung Cancer" at Lung.org/solc. 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 Jennifer Solomon at the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 516-680-8927.

For more information, contact:

Jennifer Solomon
(516) 680-8927
[email protected]

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