Americans with lung cancer are now more likely to survive for at least five years after their diagnosis, according to a new report from the American Lung Association.
The upward trend is encouraging, but lung cancer continues to be the deadliest cancer in the United States, said Carrie Nyssen, a spokeswoman for the association’s Oregon chapter.
“Much more must be done to prevent lung cancer and support families facing the disease,” she said.
About 22% of patients diagnosed with lung cancer from 2009 to 2015 survived at least five years, compared to the 17% of patients diagnosed from 2000 to 2006 who survived at least that long.
With a 23% survival rate, Oregon ranked 14th among the 45 states for which the association has survival data. The rate was 21% for Oregonians diagnosed between 2008 and 2014, the most recent timeframe for Oregon.
Lung cancer is a major killer because it’s rarely caught early enough to cure, the association said.
The association, founded more than a century ago, advocates for laws protecting the air, works to keep tobacco away from children and funds research into lung diseases.
The group used data from the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries to calculate lung cancer survival rates. The registry serves as a central collection point for cancer data from healthcare providers in the United States and Canada.
The report had some good news for Oregon.
Compared to the rest of the country, fewer Oregonians got lung cancer from 2012 to 2016, with 55 out of 100,000 Oregonians falling ill, compared to about 60 out of every 100,000 people in the entire United States.
The state also did well in screening people at high risk of lung cancer, but only relative to the rest of the country. About 6% of the state’s high-risk residents got a screening in 2018, compared to the national rate of about 4%.
Oregon fared poorly in the percent of people diagnosed with lung cancer who are actually getting treatment. About 20% of people with lung cancer from 2012 to 2016 didn’t get treated, compared to 15% nationally.
The lung association used the most recent data available to calculate incidence rates, screening and treatment data. The survival data is older because analysts have to wait five years after the most recent diagnosis to count how many patients survive that long.
The association said Oregon’s low treatment rates are “alarming.”
“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,” the association’s summary of its Oregon findings says.
Oregon has in the past received scathing grades from the association. A 2014 report gave the state an F for tobacco prevention and control and an F for tobacco cessation programs. Cigarette smoking is the most common cause of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.
— Fedor Zarkhin
desk: 503-294-7674|cell: 971-373-2905|@fedorzarkhin
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