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Lung cancer survival rates are improving, especially in historically communities of color. a new survey A report released Tuesday by the American Lung Association.
The findings are a bright spot amid growing racial disparities in many areas of health care.
In the five years from 2015 to 2019, the five-year survival rate for lung cancer increased by 22%. Currently, the five-year lung cancer survival rate for all racial and ethnic groups is 26.6%. Survival rates for people of color increased by 17% in just five years. two year (2017-2019), it is currently 23.7%.
Zach Jump, director of epidemiology and statistics for the American Lung Association, said the findings were “unexpected,” adding that the rate at which racial disparities are shrinking appears to be alarming.
“We are encouraged by the work being done to eliminate the stigma of lung cancer, increase lung cancer screening and improve lung cancer treatment,” Harold Wimmer, president and CEO of the American Lung Association, said in a statement.
Lung cancer remains the most common cancer Kills most Americans, 127,000 people died last year. People of color tend to be diagnosed later than people with white teeth and are less likely to have access to treatments like surgery, which historically reduces their likelihood of survival.
Improvements in survival were not uniform across all races, and some differences remained. The survival rate for white people is 25%, but the survival rate for black Americans is 21%, for indigenous people it is 22%, and for Hispanics it is 23%. These rates are an improvement from two years ago, when only 18% of Black Americans and 19% of Native Americans and Hispanics survived.
Asian Americans have higher lung cancer survival rates than whites, with their survival rate jumping from 23.4% to 29% within two years.
Jump said he hopes these improvements will continue and be replicated across other racial disparities in health care. “Honestly, that’s our next question: trying to figure out what’s driving it.”
The report also noted some significant geographic differences in lung cancer survival rates. Rhode Island’s patient survival rate is 33%, while Oklahoma’s is 21%.
Overall lung cancer five-year survival rate significant lower than many other cancers. For example, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 91%, and the five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer is about 65%.
Jump means if More people are at high risk Annual low-dose CT scans are an effective way to detect disease early. When detected early, the five-year survival rate for lung cancer is much higher at 63%.
But last year, only 4.5% of eligible people were screened for lung cancer, far lower than the rates for breast or colorectal cancer.
In fact, according to the report, just over a quarter of lung cancer cases are diagnosed in the early stages, with 44% not being detected until late stages, at which point the survival rate is only 8%.
Jump said lung cancer doesn’t have to be as scary a diagnosis as it once was, thanks to recent new treatments that have proven to be very effective, especially when used in its early stages. “All of a sudden you’re getting these targeted immunotherapies, and it’s a paradigm shift,” he said.
Jump said he hopes screening rates will increase, leading to improved survival rates.
It is rare to see such dramatic improvements in cancer treatment and survival in such a short period of time, especially to benefit disadvantaged communities.
“Cancer treatment in general, and lung cancer treatment in particular, progresses quite slowly,” Jump said. “So to be able to see significant progress within a few years is very exciting and is definitely reason for optimism.”