More Americans than ever are surviving lung cancer. While the disease remains the leading cause of cancer deaths among both women and men, over the past ten years the survival rate has dramatically increased. A new report from the American Lung Association examines this promising trend, including what is driving the change and what still needs to be done to save more lives.
The five-year survival rate – the rate of people who are still alive five years after being diagnosed – is now 21.7%, as reported in the 2019 “State of Lung Cancer” report, up from 17.2% a decade ago. This is a dramatic 26% improvement over the past 10 years. This year’s report supports both the lifesaving potential of lung cancer screening, which finds the disease at an early stage when it’s more curable, and the importance of advancements in lung cancer research which holds the promise for better treatment options.
“Lung cancer has touched far too many lives, and this year’s ‘State of Lung Cancer’ report offers tremendous hope and reaffirms our belief in the lifesaving potential of screening and cancer research to turn the tide against this disease,” said American Lung Association National President and CEO Harold Wimmer. “The Lung Association has doubled its investment in promising lung cancer research. But to save more lives, all states and communities need to act to address lung cancer and support patients, and this report serves as a powerful roadmap.”
The American Lung Association’s annual report examines the toll of lung cancer in every state, lifesaving advancements in lung cancer treatments and early detection, and opportunities for states to accelerate efforts to save more lives and prevent new lung cancer cases.
“To truly realize the benefit of lung cancer screening, states need to ensure that those eligible for screening are aware of the simple test and speak with their doctor,” Wimmer said.
According to the report, nationwide only 4.2% of those who qualify were screened in 2018. If everyone at high risk were screened, close to 48,000 lives would be saved nationwide.
“No one should lose their life to lung cancer because they weren’t aware they qualified for screening or couldn’t access treatment options,” Wimmer said. “All states must make addressing lung cancer an urgent public health priority, and this new report offers solutions and opportunities for states to address the toll of lung cancer.”