Lung Cancer News

image105-1Even though most people don’t know it, lung cancer is the number one can- cer killer of both women and men. It is the cause of one in four cancer deaths in the United States. Every two-and-a-half minutes someone will be diagnosed with lung cancer, with an estimated 234,030 new cases this year.

Recently, and for the first time, the Ameri- can Lung Association (ALA) released a re- port called LUNG FORCE: State of Lung Cancer. It features statistics of each state to help our legislators ensure Americans may lead a smoke-free life, have access to early detection of lung cancer and care, with support a top priority. (The report may be viewed on the Internet at

 ALA President Harold Wimmer notes, “The State of Lung Cancer report makes it clear that as a nation we need to do a better job. Every state needs to make prevention a priority with proven, effective policies and to also ensure screening facilities are available for those eligible for screening, regardless of where a person lives. This is how we’ll save lives.”

Lung cancer diagnoses and survival rates vary state by state. By better understand- ing the impact of lung cancer across the nation, efforts and policies can be focused where the needs are greatest. Each state was ranked on the following:

  • Incidence: The rate of new cases varies greatly by state. The report finds that Utah has the nation’s lowest lung cancer rates while Kentucky has the highest. There are a variety of risk factors associ- ated with the disease, including smoking, exposure to radon gas, air pollution and secondhand smoke. Radon testing and mitigation, healthy air protections, and reducing the smoking rate through tobacco tax increases, smoke-free air laws and access to comprehensive quit smoking services are all ways to help prevent new lung cancer cases.
  • Survival rate: Unfortunately lung can- cer is not often caught at an early stage when it is more likely to be The five-year lung cancer survival rate ranges from 24 percent in New York to 15.9 percent in Louisiana.
  • Early or late diagnosis: People diagnosed at an early stage of lung cancer are five times more likely to survive but only 18.9 percent of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at an early stage. The percent of cases diagnosed at an early stage – when it is most likely to be curable – was highest for Wyoming at 23.3 percent and lowest for Hawaii and Oregon at 15 percent.
  • Screening centers: The ALA report finds that those living in states with greater availability of accredited lung cancer screening sites generally have greater early diagnosis and survival of lung Delaware had the most screening centers per million people at 21.1, while Utah had the fewest centers per million people at 0.7.
  • Surgical treatment: Lung cancer is more likely to be curable if the tumor can be surgically removed, and surgery is more likely to be an option if the diagnosis is made at an early stage before the cancer has spread. Nationally, 21 percent of cases underwent surgery as part of the first course of treatment, ranging from 30.1 percent in Massachusetts to 14.3 percent in Oklahoma.

You may sign a petition at the ALA site to call on your state governor to make com- bating lung cancer a public health priority.

Types of Lung Cancer

The American Cancer Society tells us there are three types of lung cancer. Non- small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancers compromising about 85 percent of all lung cancers. Squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma are all subtypes of non-small cell lung cancer.

If you have non-small cell lung cancer, your doctor will want to find out how far it has spread to determine what type of treatment is best for you. This is called staging. The stage describes the spread of the cancer through the lung. Your stage can be stage 1, 2, 3 or 4. The lower the number, the less the cancer has spread. A higher number, such as stage 4, means a more serious cancer that has spread beyond the lungs.

The second type, small cell lung cancer, also called oat cell cancer, makes up about 10 to 15 percent of all lung cancer. It tends to spread quickly.

Lung carcinoid tumor or lung neuro- endocrine tumor is the third type which makes up fewer than 5 percent of all lung cancers. Most of these grow slowly and rarely spread.