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December 6, 2019

11/16/2019 7:30:00 AM
Report explores how states can act to save more lives, support patients and families facing lung cancer

Lung cancer is the No. 1 cancer killer of women and men in the United States. While it's estimated that 4,150 Wisconsinites will be diagnosed with this disease in 2019 alone, fortunately more Americans than ever are surviving the disease, according to a new report from the American Lung Association.

The annual "State of Lung Cancer" report examines the toll of lung cancer throughout the nation, and outlines steps every state can take to better protect its residents from lung cancer.

This year's "State of Lung Cancer" seeks to continue the positive trend of increased lung cancer survival, as the nationwide five-year lung cancer survival rate of 21.7%, up from 17.2% a decade ago, reflects a 26% improvement over the past 10 years.

In Wisconsin the survival rate is 22.3 percent.

In six separate categories, Wisconsin ranks "Average" in four and "Above Average" in two.

"While we celebrate that more Americans than ever are surviving lung cancer, the disease remains the leading cause of cancer deaths, and much more can and must be done in Wisconsin to prevent the disease and support families facing the disease," said Dona Wininsky, Director, Advocacy, Grassroots and Patient Engagement-Wisconsin, American Lung Association. "With all of the great resources available in our state, are we willing to settle for "average?"

Part of the reason that lung cancer is so deadly is because most lung cancer cases are diagnosed at a later stage, after the disease has spread. Lung cancer screening is the key to early detection, when the disease is most curable, but only 21.5% of lung cancer cases nationally are diagnosed at an early stage. While this simple screening test has been available since 2015, 8.2 percent of those eligible in Wisconsin have been screened, which is almost double the national rate.

"This simple test - lung cancer screening - is a powerful tool to save lives," said Wininsky. "Yet we're only seeing a fraction of those who qualify actually getting screened. We're pushing for greater awareness of this test to save more lives here in Wisconsin."

The "State of Lung Cancer" 2019 report finds that the burden of lung cancer varies on a state by state basis.

By better understanding the impact of lung cancer across the nation, efforts and policies can be focused where the needs are greatest, and this year's report finds Wisconsin can do more to protect residents from lung cancer.

Below are the key findings for Wisconsin:

• New Cases: Wisconsin ranks 25 of 51 - Average

• Survival: Lung cancer has one of the lowest five-year survival rates because cases are often diagnosed at later stages when it is less likely to be curable. Wisconsin ranks 17 of 45 states, or 22.3 percent - Average.

• Early Diagnosis: Nationally, only 21.5% of cases are diagnosed at an early stage when the five-year survival rate is much higher (57.7%). Unfortunately, about 48.5% of cases are not caught until a late stage when the survival rate is only 6%. Wisconsin ranks 19 out of 48 or 22 percent - Average.

• Surgical Treatment: Lung cancer can often be treated with surgery if it is diagnosed at an early stage and has not spread widely. Nationally, 20.6% of cases underwent surgery. Wisconsin ranks 12 out of 48 at 21.5 percent - Average.

• Lack of Treatment: There are multiple reasons why patients may not receive treatment. Some of these reasons may be unavoidable, but no one should go untreated because of lack of provider or patient knowledge, stigma associated with lung cancer, fatalism after diagnosis, or cost of treatment. Nationally, about 15.4% of cases receive no treatment. Wisconsin ranks 11 out of 46, 12.4 percent - Above Average.

• Screening and Prevention: Screening for lung cancer with annual low-dose CT scans among those who qualify can reduce the lung cancer death rate by up to 20%. Nationally, only 4.2% of those who qualify were screened. Wisconsin ranked five out of 51, among the highest in the nation with 8.2 percent - Above Average.

• Medicaid Fee-for-Service Coverage for Screening - Covered

To learn more about the "State of Lung Cancer," visit Lung.org/solc.





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