Doctors use ablation to treat lung cancer

Laverne Higgins
November 20, 2020

According to the lung association, 23.7% of Pennsylvanians diagnosed with lung cancer are still alive five years later - a 14% increase from five years ago.

The third annual "State of Lung Cancer" released Tuesday 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 are surviving lung cancer, too many people are being left behind, and the disease still remains the leading cause of cancer deaths", says Ken Fletcher, advocacy director for the association. On average, the higher the prevalence of smoking, the more lung cancer cases in a state. In nearly every category, the report said minority groups were worse off than whites when it came to early diagnosis, treatment after diagnosis and surgical treatment. Asian Americans topped whites only in the area of surgical treatment, with the report saying they were 11% more likely to get surgical care.

"Those populations are disproportionately affected for a number of reasons", he said, including the cost of health insurance, as well as the cost of and access to preventive health services.

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Black individuals are 28% less likely to be diagnosed early than their white counterparts, the report noted. In California, 22.9% of those diagnosed did not receive any form of treatment. Derksen said that is a radical shift from when he first started in medicine.

"Lung cancer is often referred to as the silent killer, as it has few symptoms and is typically found in later stages when it's less curable", said American Lung Association President and CEO Harold Wimmer. "Why screen for it, it wouldn't change the outcomes". Nationally, only 5.7% of those who qualify were screened. "We need to improve our lung cancer incidence rates in South Dakota and ensure that the Indigenous community is getting the resources needed to survive this deadly disease". If you're between the ages of 55 and 77 with a significant smoking history (having smoked one pack of cigarettes a day for 30 or more years) and including those who have quit smoking within the past 15 years, you are eligible to be screened.

The report only looked at state Medicaid programs.

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