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For World Cancer Day, American Lung Association releases 2022 Lung Health Barometer

The American Lung Association marked World Lung Cancer Day Monday by releasing a survey that shows most people are not concerned about getting the disease.

The 2022 Lung Health Barometer asked 4,000 Americans about lung cancer. The seventh annual survey examined awareness, attitudes and beliefs about lung cancer. ALA says in New York and across the nation, it is the leading cause of cancer deaths. The survey found that only 40% of Americans are concerned that they might get lung cancer, and only about one in five have talked to their doctor about their risk for the disease.

Trevor Summerfield is director of advocacy with the American Lung Association for New York, Massachusetts and Vermont.

"It's really important that we get the word out about lung cancer," Summerfield said. "It is the leading cause of cancer deaths in New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont. And you know, here in New York, specifically, it's estimated that more than 14,000 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2022. And more than 6,660 people will die from the disease. But the good news is, there's hope. Lung cancer's survival rate has risen substantially in all three states. And that's due to better medicine and treatment, but more importantly, to greater awareness."

The survey shows 73% of adults have not spoken with their doctor about their risk for lung cancer and only 29% of Americans know that lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in the U.S.

63-year-old Mariann Casagrande of Lake Carmel in Putnam County says she was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2015.

"Early detection is key. Unfortunately, by the time you do have a symptom as I did it, you are at a more critical stage," said Casagrande. "So whether or not you're going a candidate for the low dose CAT scans, or if you're not, then I do feel that part of your physical, you should make a chest X ray part of it. Two thirds of us diagnosed are either non-smokers or former smokers. So it's no longer a smoker’s disease. It's an environmental issue as well. And people truly need to understand that, I don't think they take lung cancer seriously, even though it is the number one cancer killer of men and women nationwide."

Casagrande is in her seventh year of treatment, and advocates for lung cancer awareness and research dollars. Summerfield says that while lung cancer screening remains low, significant work has been done to increase eligibility.

"Just last year, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force expanded the guidelines for screening to include individuals ages 50 to 80 years," Summerfield said. "That almost doubled the number of individuals eligible for screening, and has the potential to save significantly more lives than previous guidelines and people are covered under this through the Affordable Care Act and their insurance plan. It's preventive screening. And if anybody wants to learn more about this, they can visit savedbythescan.org."

Here's a link to the Lung Health Barometer survey.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.