‘State of Lung Cancer’ report shows Utah has lowest rate of new cases in U.S.

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah has the lowest rate of new lung cancer cases in the country, according to a newly released report from the American Lung Association.

But the Beehive State also has one of the lowest rates of screenings among those who qualify, just 2.5 percent.

The "State of Lung Cancer" report for 2019 estimates 780 Utah residents will be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2019.

Nationally the report revealed a positive trend in the survival rate of those with lung cancer, going from 17.2 percent a decade ago to 21.7 percent now.  Utah's survival rate for lung cancer is 21.4 percent.

“While we celebrate that more Americans than ever are surviving lung cancer, it remains the leading cause of cancer deaths among men and women, and much more must be done in Utah to prevent the disease and support families,” said JoAnna Strother, advocacy director for the American Lung Association in Utah.

Lung cancer is often deadly because it is not detected until the late stages, after the disease has spread. The report states lung cancer screening for early detection is the key, as lung cancer is often treatable with surgery before it spreads.

“Screening is a powerful tool to save lives,” Strother said. “Yet we’re only seeing a fraction of those who qualify actually getting screened, even though screening can reduce the lung cancer death rate by up to 20 percent.”

A press release from the American Lung Association in Utah outlined the key findings from the 2019 report:

  • 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. Utah ranks near average at 21.4 percent.
  • Early Diagnosis: Nationally, only 21.5 percent of cases are diagnosed at an early stage when the five-year survival rate is much higher. Unfortunately, about 48.5 percent of cases are not caught until a late stage when the survival rate is only 6 percent. Utah ranks 40th out of 48 at 19.6 percent.
  • 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 percent of cases underwent surgery. Utah ranks 8th out of 48 states with 24.2 percent.
  • 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 percent of cases receive no treatment. Utah ranks near the bottom with 23.6 percent and ranking 43rd out of 46 states.
  • Screening and Prevention: Screening for lung cancer with annual low-dose CT scans among those who qualify can reduce the lung cancer death rate. Nationally, only 4.2 percent of those who qualify were screened. Utah ranked among the bottom with 2.5 percent.
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