Lung cancer: More screenings could save lives

Created: November 21, 2020 08:53 AM

(NBC News) —  Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, yet few are properly screened for the disease according to this year's "State of Lung Cancer" report. 

The report from the American Lung Association finds while lung cancer survival rates have increased over the past five years, less than six percent of people considered high-risk were screened last year.

That's one reason just over 20 percent of cases are caught early.

"Diagnosing it earlier in Stage One or Stage Two affords the ability to save lives by curative resection or earlier treatment of the disease," says Dr. Albert Rizzo, the Lung Association's chief medical officer.

For the first time, the report also examines cases within racial and ethnic groups.

It finds people of color face worse outcomes than whites.
Black Americans, for example, are 16 percent less likely to be diagnosed early and 19 percent less likely to receive surgical treatment.

Latinos are 39 percent less likely to receive treatment at all. 

"Part of what we have to do as a society and as a Lung Association, is to try to even out these health inequity. Make sure that access to care is equal across the board," Dr. Rizzo says.

The American Lung Association recommends screenings for those 55 to 80 with a history of smoking, those still smoking, or those who quit within the last 15 years.

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