NEW JERSEY – The 2021 “State of Lung Cancer” report shows that people of color who are diagnosed with lung cancer face worse outcomes compared to whites, and that New Jersey among the best (in top 5 in nation) for percent of lung cancer cases still alive five years after diagnosis (ranking 5 out of 45 states measured) and for cases undergoing surgery as first course of treatment (ranking 5 out of 49 states).
The American Lung Association’s 4th annual report, released today, highlights how the toll of lung cancer varies by state and examines key indicators throughout the U.S. including: new cases, survival, early diagnosis, surgical treatment, lack of treatment and screening rates. 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 reveals that the lung cancer five-year survival rate increased 14.5% nationally to 23.7% yet remains significantly lower among communities of color. In fact, while the national lung cancer survival rate increased, it remains at only 20% for communities of color and 18% for Black Americans. Lung cancer can often be treated with surgery if it is diagnosed at an early stage and has not spread. Here in New Jersey, Black Americans are 33% more likely than white Americans to receive no surgical treatment for lung cancer; and Latinos are 16% more likely to receive no treatment.
“While we celebrate that more Americans are surviving lung cancer, too many people are being left behind, and the disease remains the leading cause of cancer deaths,” said Michael Seilback, National AVP, State Public Policy, American Lung Association. “Much more can and must be done in New Jersey to prevent the disease and support those facing the disease, including ensuring everyone who is at high risk is screened for lung cancer; making sure everyone has access to quality and affordable healthcare; and promoting testing of homes for radon.
The report found that New Jersey ranked:
- 15 in the nation for lung cancer incidence at 55 per 100,000. 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.
- 5 in the nation for survival and among the top at 27.5% (an 18% improvement in past 5 years). The national average of people alive five years after a lung cancer diagnosis is 23.7%.
- 15 in the nation for early diagnosis at 25.6% – a 48% improvement over past 5 years. Nationally, only 24.5% of cases are diagnosed at an early stage when the five-year survival rate is much higher.
- 41 in the nation, and among the worst for lung cancer screening at 3%. 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.
- 5 in the nation, and among the top 5, for surgery at 25.7%. Lung cancer can often be treated with surgery if it is diagnosed at an early stage and has not spread. Nationally, 20.7% of cases underwent surgery.
- 32 in the nation for those diagnosed that did not receive any form of treatment at 22%. Nationally, 21.1% of cases receive no treatment. There are multiple reasons why patients may not receive treatment after diagnosis. 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.
- In New Jersey, Black Americans are 33% more likely to receive no treatment than white Americans at 27.8% vs. 20.9% respectively. Latino Americans are 16% more likely to receive no treatment (24.4%) than white Americans.
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.
The Lung Association encourages everyone to join the effort to end lung cancer. Go to Lung.org/solc to learn more about lung cancer in your state and sign our petition to increase funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to protect our nation’s health from disease, including lung cancer.
For current and former smokers, there are lifesaving resources available. Find out if you are eligible for lung cancer screening at SavedByTheScan.org, and then talk to your doctor about getting screened.