State of Lung Cancer 2020
Rate of New Cases Survival Rate Early Diagnosis Surgical Treatment Lack of Treatment Screening
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Rate of New Cases -
Survival Rate -
Early Diagnosis -
Surgical Treatment -
Lack of Treatment -
Screening -

Fee-For-Service Medicaid Coverage of Screening

Not Available

Highlighted Disparity

Latinos in New Mexico are least likely to be diagnosed early.

Lung Cancer Rates

New Cases

New Cases:

  • The rate of new lung cancer cases is 37 and significantly lower than the national rate of 58.
  • New Mexico ranks 2nd among all states, placing it in the top tier.
  • Over the last five years, the rate of new cases improved by 20%.
5-Year Survival Rate

5-Year Survival Rate:

  • The percent of people alive five years after being diagnosed with lung cancer (the survival rate) in New Mexico is 21%, which is significantly lower than the national rate of 24%.
  • It ranks 33rd among the 45 states with survival data, placing it in the below average tier.
  • Over the last five years, the survival rate in New Mexico improved by 18%.
Stage at Diagnosis

Most lung cancer cases are diagnosed at later stages when the cancer has spread to other organs, treatment options are less likely to be curative, and survival is lower. In general, the earlier that lung cancer is diagnosed, the more likely that treatments will be effective and improve chances of survival.

Nationally, only 24% of cases are caught early when the five-year survival rate is much higher (60%). Unfortunately, most cases (46%) are not caught until a late stage when the survival rate is only 6%.


Early Diagnosis:

  • 20% of cases are caught at an early stage, which is significantly lower than the national rate of 24%.
  • It ranks 48th among the 49 states with data on diagnosis at an early stage, placing it in the bottom tier.
  • Over the last five years, the early diagnosis rate in New Mexico improved by 28%.

Lung Cancer Treatment

Surgical

While surgery may not be an option for every patient, those who receive it as part of their initial treatment have higher survival rates than those who do not. Patients who are not healthy enough to undergo the procedure or whose cancer has spread too far, may not be candidates for surgery. Other treatments may be recommended instead of or in addition to surgery, such as chemotherapy, radiation, targeted therapy or immunotherapy.


Surgical Treatment:

  • New Mexico ranked 49th (out of the 49 states with available data) with 13% of cases undergoing surgery as part of the first course of treatment.
  • This is significantly lower than the national rate of 20.7% and puts New Mexico in the bottom tier.
  • Over the last five years, the percent of cases undergoing surgery in New Mexico did not change significantly.
Lack of Treatment

Not every patient receives treatment after being diagnosed with lung cancer. This can happen for multiple reasons, such as poor health or refusal of treatment. Some of these reasons may be unavoidable, but no one should go untreated because of lack of provider or patient knowledge, stigma associated with lung cancer, fatalism after diagnosis, or cost of treatment. Dismantling these and other barriers is important to reducing the percent of patients who do not receive any treatment.


Lack of Treatment:

  • New Mexico ranked 48th (out of the 49 states with available data) with 28% of cases not receiving any treatment.
  • This is significantly higher than the national rate of 21% and puts New Mexico in the bottom tier.
  • Over the last five years, the percent of cases receiving no treatment in New Mexico did not change significantly.

Screening

COVID-19 Impact

Nationally, screening rates have increased every year since it was first recommended. However, the national rate did not change from 2019 to 2020, likely due to COVID-19 lockdowns limiting access to healthcare resources and the public’s reticence to enter medical facilities during the pandemic.

High Risk

Screening for lung cancer with annual low-dose CT scans among those at high risk can reduce the lung cancer death rate by up to 20% by detecting tumors at early stages when they are more likely to be curable.

Based on new research, 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 and former smokers. This will dramatically increase the number of women and Black Americans considered at high risk for lung cancer.

High Risk is defined as:

  2020 Guidelines 2021 Guidelines
Age 55-80 years 50-80 years
Smoking History 30 or more pack years
(this means 1 pack a day for 30 years, 2 packs a day for 15 years, etc.)
20 or more pack years
(this means 1 pack a day for 20 years, 2 packs a day for 10years, etc.)
Smoking Status Current smoker or quit within the last 15 years

Screening rates in this report are from before the guidelines were updated and do not yet reflect screening among those newly eligible.


Screening for High Risk:

  • In New Mexico, 2% of those at high risk were screened, which was significantly lower than the national rate of 6%.
  • It ranks 47th among all states, placing it in the bottom tier.

For screening to be most effective in reducing the overall lung cancer mortality rate, more of the high-risk population should be screened – currently screening rates are very low among those at high risk. This may be because of a lack of access or low awareness and knowledge among patients and providers. Rates vary tremendously between states and more can be done to increase screening rates.

Medicaid Coverage

Medicaid beneficiaries are disproportionately affected by lung cancer, yet standard Medicaid programs are one of the only healthcare payers not required to cover lung cancer screening. If screening is covered, Medicaid programs may use different eligibility criteria, require prior authorization or charge individuals for their scans. The American Lung Association analyzed lung cancer screening coverage policies in state Medicaid fee-for-service programs to assess the current status of lung cancer screening coverage for the Medicaid population.

The Lung Association urges all state Medicaid programs to cover lung cancer screening based on evidence-based guidelines across all fee-for-service and managed care plans and to remove any financial or administrative barriers that limit access to this lifesaving service.


Medicaid Coverage:

  • New Mexico was one of the 3 states with no information available on whether their Medicaid fee-for-service programs covered lung cancer screening as of September 2021.

Prevention

Tobacco
Tobacco use is the leading risk factor for lung cancer. Smoking and secondhand smoke both have been shown to cause lung cancer.

State of Tobacco Control

Each year the Lung Association publishes the "State of Tobacco Control" report. The 2021 report grades all 50 states and the federal government on four key tobacco control policies: tobacco control and prevention spending, smokefree air, tobacco taxes, and cessation coverage.
View Report Card

Tobacco Use:

  • The smoking rate in New Mexico is 16% and not significantly different than the national rate of 15%.
  • It ranks 26th among all states, placing it in the average tier.
Radon
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.
Radon is a colorless and odorless gas that can seep into homes and buildings. Some geographical areas naturally have higher average radon levels than others, but since any home can be at risk for elevated levels, the only way to know is to do a test. If testing shows interior radon levels at or above the U.S. EPA action level of 4 pCi/L (picoCuries per liter of air) or higher, it is recommended to take corrective measures to reduce your exposure to radon gas. Such measures should also be considered at levels at or above 2 pCi/L.

Radon:

  • In New Mexico, 25% of radon tests results were at or above the action level recommended by EPA.
  • It ranks 27th among all states, placing it in the average tier.
Air Pollution
Air pollution is a known risk factor for lung cancer. Long-term exposure to outdoor particle pollution is known to cause lung cancer.

State of the Air

Each year the Lung Association publishes the "State of the Air" report. The 2021 report grades U.S. counties on harmful particle pollution and ozone pollution recorded over a three-year period, and details trends for metropolitan areas over the past two decades. The report also ranks the cleanest and most polluted areas in the country.
View Report Card

Racial & Ethnic Disparities

Black

Black Americans:

  • The rate of new lung cancer cases is 55 per 100,000 population among Black Americans in New Mexico, not significantly different than the rate of 60 among Black Americans nationally, and not significantly different than the rate of 44 among whites in New Mexico. 
  • The five-year survival rate is 28% among Black Americans in New Mexico, not significantly different than the rate of 21% among Black Americans nationally, and not significantly different than the rate of 21% among whites in New Mexico. 
  • 27% of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at an early stage among Black Americans in New Mexico, not significantly different than the rate of 21% among Black Americans nationally, and not significantly different than the rate of 21% among whites in New Mexico. 
  • 26% of Black Americans with lung cancer in New Mexico did not receive any treatment, not significantly different than the rate of 23% among Black Americans nationally, and not significantly different than the rate of 28% among whites in New Mexico. 
  • Other lung cancer rates are not available for Black Americans in New Mexico due to too few cases over the time period to allow for accurate analysis. 
Latino

Latino Americans:

  • The rate of new lung cancer cases is 30 per 100,000 population among Latinos in New Mexico, not significantly different than the rate of 29 among Latinos nationally, and significantly lower than the rate of 44 among whites in New Mexico. 
  • State-level survival rates are not available for Latino Americans at this time. Nationally, the five-year survival rate among Latino Americans is 19%, 13% lower than among white Americans. 
  • 18% of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at an early stage among Latinos in New Mexico, significantly lower than the rate of 22% among Latinos nationally, and significantly lower than the rate of 21% among whites in New Mexico. 
  • 12% of Latinos with lung cancer in New Mexico underwent surgery, significantly lower than the rate of 21% among Latinos nationally, and not significantly different than the rate of 14% among whites in New Mexico. 
  • 29% of Latinos with lung cancer in New Mexico did not receive any treatment, not significantly different than the rate of 26% among Latinos nationally, and not significantly different than the rate of 28% among whites in New Mexico. 
Asian & Pacific Islander

Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders:

  • The rate of new lung cancer cases is 32 per 100,000 population among Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders in New Mexico, not significantly different than the rate of 34 among Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders nationally, and significantly lower than the rate of 44 among whites in New Mexico. 
  • State-level survival rates are not available for Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders at this time. Nationally, the five-year survival rate among Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders is 23%, 8% higher than among white Americans. 
  • Other lung cancer rates are not available for Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders in New Mexico due to too few cases over the time period to allow for accurate analysis. 
Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous Peoples:

  • The rate of new lung cancer cases is 12 per 100,000 population among Indigenous Peoples (American Indians/Alaska Natives) in New Mexico, significantly lower than the rate of 41 among Indigenous Peoples nationally, and significantly lower than the rate of 44 among whites in New Mexico. 
  • State-level survival rates are not available for Indigenous Peoples at this time. Nationally, the five-year survival rate among Indigenous Peoples is 19%, 11% lower than among white Americans. 
  • 29% of Indigenous Peoples (American Indians/Alaska Natives) with lung cancer in New Mexico did not receive any treatment, not significantly different than the rate of 23% among Indigenous Peoples (American Indians/Alaska Natives) nationally, and not significantly different than the rate of 28% among whites in New Mexico. 
  • Other lung cancer rates are not available for Indigenous Peoples (American Indians/Alaska Natives) in New Mexico due to too few cases over the time period to allow for accurate analysis. 

Summary

The early diagnosis rate in New Mexico falls into the bottom tier. The state still has a lot of work to do to make sure that more of those at high risk for lung cancer are screened.

The Lung Association encourages all states to cover lung cancer screening based on recommended guidelines across all fee-for-service and managed care plans without any financial or administrative barriers in their Medicaid programs.

It is alarming that New Mexico falls into the bottom tier for percent of patients not receiving any treatment. Some patients do refuse treatment, but issues such as fatalism and stigma can prevent eligible patients from accessing treatment that may save or extend their lives. All patients should work with their doctors to establish a treatment plan and goals.

State Infographic

Compare out how your state ranks on each lung cancer measure.

Download PDF

What Can I Do?

You can lower their risk of lung cancer, as well as the risk of those around you, through these steps:

Sign Our Petition

Sign our petition asking Congress to provide the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with robust and sustainable funding.

Take Action
  • Encourage others who meet the criteria to do the same.
  • If you or someone you know is ready to quit smoking, the Lung Association is here to help. Our Freedom From Smoking program has helped over a million people quit smoking for good.
  • Support comprehensive and strong tobacco control policies, including:
    • Higher tobacco taxes, which both encourage people to quit and prevent children and others from starting to smoke.
    • Adequate funding of tobacco control programs, which are an important part of helping people quit and keeping potential new smokers from starting.
    • Comprehensive coverage of all FDA-approved smoking cessation medication and the three forms of counseling, with no barriers to accessing them, which leads to more successful quit attempts.
  • Make your house and car clean air zones, with no smoking allowed. Avoid places that are not smokefree, and advocate for smokefree air policies in restaurants, bars, casinos or anywhere they are not in place.

Radon is a naturally occurring gas that can have a big impact on indoor air quality and your health. Take steps to reduce your risk if radon levels in your home are too high.
Learn more about radon