Race gap persists in outcomes for Delawareans battling lung cancer

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The 2021 “State of Lung Cancer” report shows that people of color diagnosed with lung cancer face worse outcomes than whites.

Delaware ranks seventh from the top among states for early diagnosis, 10th for lung cancer screening.

Delaware is also among the worst rankings for new lung cancer cases – 39 out of 51), and surgical treatment – 30 out of 49).

The American Lung Association’s 4th annual report highlights how the toll of lung cancer varies by state and examines key indicators.

This is the second year that the “State of Lung Cancer” report explores the lung cancer burden among racial and ethnic minority groups at the national and state levels.

The report indicates that the lung cancer five-year survival rate increased 14.5% nationally to 23.7% yet remains significantly lower among communities of color. While the national lung cancer survival rate increased, it remains at only 20% for communities of color and 18% for Black Americans.

The report found that Delaware ranked:

  • 39th in the nation for lung cancer incidence at 65.2 per 100,000 – this marks a 15% improvement over the past five years. Incidence refers to the number of new cases of lung cancer in each state. The national lung cancer incidence is 57.7 per 100,000.
  • 19th in the nation for survival at 24%. The national average of people alive five years after a lung cancer diagnosis is 23.7%.
  • 7th in the nation, and among the best, for early diagnosis at 26.9%. Nationally, only 24.5% of cases are diagnosed early when the five-year survival rate is much higher.
  • 10th in the nation for lung cancer screening at 9%. Lung cancer screening with annual low-dose CT scans for those at high risk can reduce the lung cancer death rate by up to 20%. Nationally, only 5.7% of those at high risk were screened.
  • 30th in the nation, and below average for surgery at 18.9%. Lung cancer can often be treated with surgery if it is diagnosed early and has not spread. Nationally, 20.7% of cases underwent surgery.
  • 22th in the nation and among the best for treatment, with 19.4% percent of cases receiving no treatment after diagnosis. Nationally, 21.1% of cases receive no treatment.

While the “State of Lung Cancer” report findings show significant work to be done, there is hope. 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 or former smokers. This dramatically increased the number of women and Black Americans who are eligible for lung cancer screening.

For current and former smokers, there resources available. First, find out if you are eligible for lung cancer screening at SavedByTheScan.org, and then talk to your doctor about getting screened.

 

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