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New American Lung Association report gives Delaware high marks, but room for improvement remains

Delaware Public Media

For the third consecutive year, the American Lung Association released its “State of Lung Cancer” report exploring the burden of lung cancer at both national and state levels.

The report found – among other things – that Delaware ranks near the top in the country for lung cancer early diagnosis, screening, and treatment.

But medical experts say there’s still more work to be done.

Delaware Public Media’s Joe Irizarry spoke this week with Deborah Brown, the Chief Mission Officer for the American Lung Association, about the report and the biggest takeaways for Delawareans.

Delaware Public Media’s Joe Irizarry talks with Deborah Brown with the American Lung Association about its “State of Lung Cancer” report

The 2022 “State of Lung Cancer” report has Delaware in the top 11 in lung cancer screening and early diagnosis.

The American Lung Association’s 5th annual report has Delaware 9th in the nation for early diagnosis of lung cancer at 27.8%, which is a 22% improvement over the last five years. It’s above the national number of 25.8%.

Delaware is 11th for lung cancer screening at 8.9%. Lung cancer screening for those at high risk can reduce the death rate by up to 20%. Nationally, only 5.8% of those at high risk were screened.

"We are headed in the right direction, and I think overall in general the lung cancer 5-year survival rate is now at 25% which has increased 21% over the last 5 years. I think that that's really important, and that shows that progress is continuing for lung cancer survival," said Deb Brown, Chief Mission Officer for the American Lung Association.

She says there are some areas Delaware came up short.

"We are 35th in the nation for the rate of new lung cancer cases, and so while we improved over the last 5 years, we need to make sure that we're still looking at new cases,” said Brown. “And that means these cases might have been elevated because of smoking rates from decades ago or exposure to other lung cancer causes like radon and air pollution or other factors."

Brown notes Delaware was 23rd in the nation for surgery, and 24th in lack of treatment, and in both cases the rate in the state was slightly below the national number.

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Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.