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Second annual report from American Lung Association explores how states can act to save more lives, support patients and families facing lung cancer
ANCHORAGE – Alaska ranks near the bottom of the country with the five-year lung cancer survival rate at 17.6 percent. An estimated 400 Alaskans will be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2019, but more Americans than ever are surviving the disease according to a new report from the American Lung Association.
This year’s “State of Lung Cancer” report seeks to continue the positive trend of increased lung cancer survival, as the nationwide five-year lung cancer survival rate of 21.7 percent, up from 17.2 percent a decade ago, reflects a 26 percent improvement over the past 10 years. Alaska ranks 41st out of 45 states that provided data. The annual 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 we celebrate that more Americans than ever are surviving lung cancer, the disease remains the leading cause of cancer deaths in men and women in the U.S., and much more can and must be done in Alaska to prevent the disease and support families facing the disease,” said Carrie Nyssen, senior director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Alaska.
Part of the reason that lung cancer is so deadly is because most lung cancer cases are diagnosed at a later stage, after the disease has spread. Alaska has the worst early stage at diagnosis rate in the nation with 16.6 percent. Lung cancer screening is the key to early detection, when the disease is most curable, but only 21.5 percent of lung cancer cases nationally are diagnosed at an early stage. This simple screening test has been available since 2015, but only 3.6 percent of those eligible in Alaska have been screened.
“Lung cancer screening is a powerful tool to save lives, yet we’re only seeing a fraction of those who qualify actually getting screened,” Nyssen said. “Nationwide, if everyone at high risk were screened, nearly 48,000 lives would be saved.”
The “State of Lung Cancer” 2019 report finds that the burden of lung cancer varies by state. By better understanding the impact of lung cancer across the nation, efforts and policies can be focused where the needs are greatest, and this year’s report finds Alaska can and must do more to protect residents from lung cancer. Below are the key findings for Alaska:
Learn more about “State of Lung Cancer” at Lung.org/solc. For media interested in speaking with a medical expert about the “State of Lung Cancer” 2019 report or lung cancer survivor about their experience, contact Holly Harvey at Holly.Harvey@Lung.org or 206-512-3292.