West Virginia has second highest for new lung cancer cases in nation

CHARLESTON — The 2022 “State of Lung Cancer” report reveals that West Virginia has the second highest lung cancer incident rate and the highest rate of adult smokers in the United States. The report also finds that the state ranks among the bottom tier in the nation at 42nd for survival and 37th for screening. The American Lung Association’s fifth annual report, highlights the toll of lung cancer in West Virginia and examines key indicators including new cases, survival, early diagnosis, surgical treatment, lack of treatment and screening rates.

Nationally, the “State of Lung Cancer” report shows continued progress for lung cancer survival. The lung cancer five-year survival rate is now 25% and increased 21% from 2014 to 2018. While West Virginia has one of the lowest survival rates in the nation at 20.4%, there is progress as this marks an 11% improvement over the past five years. The report also highlights that people of color who are diagnosed with lung cancer face worse outcomes compared to white Americans, including lower survival rate, less likely to be diagnosed early, less likely to receive surgical treatment and more likely to receive no treatment.

“Smoking is a leading risk factor for lung cancer and here in West Virginia, we have the highest smoking rate in the nation. We also have the second highest lung cancer incident rate and we are are among the worst states for ensuring that high risk residents get lifesaving lung cancer screening. Lung cancer screening is key to early diagnosis and early diagnosis saves lives,” said Deborah Brown, Chief Mission Officer at the American Lung Association. “We all can help reduce the burden of lung cancer in West Virginia. If you are eligible for lung cancer screening, we encourage you to speak with your doctor about it. If a loved one is eligible, please encourage them to get screened.”

Currently, 14.2 million Americans meet the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force guidelines for screening. Under these guidelines, a person is eligible for lung cancer screening if they are between 50 to 80 years of age, have a 20 pack-year history (one pack/day for 20 years, two packs/day for 10 years) and are a current smoker or have quit within the last 15 years. Find out if you are eligible for lung cancer screening at SavedByTheScan.org.

“State of Lung Cancer” highlights that West Virginia must do more to reduce the burden of lung cancer and encourages everyone to join the effort to end lung cancer. Learn more about the report and email President Biden to thank him for his leadership on the Cancer Moonshot Initiative and urge him to work to increase lung cancer screening for individuals at high risk at Lung.org/solc.