Lung cancer survivor rate increases, new report reveals

A new report by the American Cancer Society is offering some hope by showing how far research has come in the fight against lung cancer.
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 5:31 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A new report by the American Cancer Society is offering some hope by showing how far research has come in the fight against lung cancer.

Health experts call new data on survival rates “remarkable progress.”

The American Cancer Society says lung cancer is the deadliest form of the disease, killing more people in the U.S. than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined.

Dr. Bobby Mahajan, pulmonologist and national spokesperson for the association, said: “It’s a terrible disease and, honestly, in the past, we’ve had trouble moving the needle regarding survival improvements.”

But the report shows the five-year lung cancer survival rate has continued to increase from 21 percent in 2014 to 25 percent in 2018.

However, a person’s odds of surviving five years after diagnosis is only about 20 percent in communities of color.

“I diagnose lung cancer daily and we’re just not catching it early enough,” Mahajan said.

The odds of surviving cancer increase significantly when it is diagnosed early.

The report says about 44 percent of cases of lung cancer aren’t caught until a late stage when the survival rate is only 7 percent. Last year, lung cancer screening recommendations were expanded to include anyone ages 50 to 80 who has smoked a pack a day for 20 years or two packs a day for a decade.

In 2021, the report shows only about 5.8 percent of eligible people in the U.S. were screened.

“The challenge is getting the word out there. Making people understand the risks of lung cancer, providing them with options in terms of how to get diagnosed with lung cancer, and then really explaining the importance of getting treated,” Mahajan says.

Some research suggests as many as 60,000 lives could be saved each year if millions of people recommended lung cancer screenings.