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American Lung Association releases sixth annual State of Lung Cancer report

For the fourth consecutive year, the “State of Lung Cancer” report explores the lung cancer burden among racial and ethnic groups at the national and state levels.
American Lung Association
For the fourth consecutive year, the “State of Lung Cancer” report explores the lung cancer burden among racial and ethnic groups at the national and state levels.

A new report on cancer from the American Lung Association is out today.  

The American Lung Association’s 2023 “State of Lung Cancer” report highlights the toll of lung cancer in New York and examines key indicators including new cases, survival, early diagnosis, surgical treatment, lack of treatment and screening rates.

Trevor Summerfield, Director of Advocacy for the Lung Association, says the report shows New York is a national leader on five years survival for early diagnosis, and surgery rates. But the sixth annual report isn’t all good news. “Unfortunately, black New Yorkers are the least likely to be diagnosed early in the state," Summerfield said. "And when we look at other neighboring states as well, talking about Massachusetts and Connecticut, in particular, you’re talking about Asian Americans as well, along with Pacific Islanders.”

Summerfield says nationally, the report found that lung cancer survival rates are improving for everyone, including people of color.

“The five-year cancer survival rate for people of color has increased by 70% in the last two years alone, helping close the health disparity gap. And thankfully, in New York, the lung cancer survival rate, again, is improved, because of increased awareness, improved access to health care, and cutting edge research into new treatments for the disease. So we're looking at, you know, really good messaging across the board, obviously, there's still more work to be done,” said Summerfield. 

Summerfield adds Connecticut, Vermont and Massachusetts are all doing very well in identifying and treating lung cancer.

“And in New York, particularly, when we look at policy to help people out, that are living with lung cancer or might be diagnosed in the future, we're looking at biomarker legislation that needs to be signed by the governor today. It needs to be signed yesterday, to be honest. The legislation is giving lung cancer patients and other patients with chronic disease, access to precision medicine, that not only saves lives, but improves the quality of lives for those people living with lung cancer. It's urgent and must be signed now for the benefit of all New Yorkers,” Summerfield said.

A spokesperson for Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul says she is reviewing the legislation.

 Lung cancer survivor Michelle McMahon from Colden, New York, outside Buffalo, recommends smokers and anyone with a family history of lung cancer be tested.

" I did catch it in stage one," McMahon said. "And it's really highly curable if you catch it early. You have to be your own best advocate. You know your body. If something doesn't feel right, you need to get it looked at. Low dose CT scans are really great, especially if you are a smoker. There's certain regulations you have to smoke so many packs a day and stuff. But the CT scan is free of charge if you meet that criteria."

The report found that New York ranked 23rd in the nation for rate of new lung cancer cases at 55.9 per 100,000. The national rate is 54.6 per 100,000. The state ranks third for survival at 32.1% and fourth for early diagnosis at 31%. The ALA estimates that more than 14,000 New Yorkers will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year and more than 6,000 will die from the disease. Here's a link to the report.

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.