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Science, Health, Tech

American Lung Association offers Delaware mixed grades on lung cancer

cancer generic Delaware Public Media

The 4th annual “State of Lung Cancer” report is out from the American Lung Association.

And there’s good and bad news for the First State.

The 2021 “State of Lung Cancer” report ranks Delaware among the best states for early diagnosis, treatment and screening.

“The report reveals that lung cancer five-year survival rates have increased by 14.5% nationally to about 23% overall," said Deborah Brown - the chief mission officer for the ALA. "Yet the survival rate remains significantly lower in communities of color at 20% and for Black Americans at 18%.”

Brown says one of the reasons Delaware is above average in lung cancer screenings, is because the First State uses a lose-dose CT Scan for individuals considered at high-risk.

She adds that the First State is also among the best states for early detection of lung cancer, meaning it’s more likely to be curable.

Delaware is below average in the number of new cases. Brown attributes this to elevated smoking rates decades ago or increased exposure to other lung cancer causes like radon or air pollution.

Lung Cancer Infographic
American Lung Association
Lung Cancer Infographic

The report shows that Delaware ranks among the worst states for new lung cancer cases (39th out of 51) and surgical treatment (30 of 39), but is among the best states for early diagnosis (of 49 measured), treatment and screening (out of 51 measured).

Brown notes Delaware is showing improvement in cancer outcomes.

“We are better as far as lung cancer survival rates. Delaware is at 24% right now; we’re at #19 out of  45 states," Brown said. "And that reflects a 28% improvement over the past five years. And so that’s amazing that more people are surviving from a lung cancer diagnosis.”

Brown adds that screening remains a point of emphasis; 9% of Delawareans considered high-risk were screened for lung cancer. That’s above average, but Brown says it needs to grow.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force expanded its recommendation for screening earlier this year to include a larger age range and more current or former smokers. This dramatically increased the number of women and Black Americans eligible for lung cancer screening.

Delawareans can click here to learn if they are eligible for lung cancer screening.

And to view the full cancer report, click here.