American Lung Association Pushing Early Detection

July 30, 2019, 12:47 PM HST (Updated July 30, 2019, 12:47 PM)
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According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lung cancer death rates in the US have decreased 11.5% since 2013. For World Lung Cancer Day on Aug. 1, the American Lung Association in Hawai‘i is highlighting recent lung cancer advancements that save more lives.

“Even with the decrease in deaths, lung cancer remains the number one cancer killer of both men and women in the US,” said Allison Hickey, executive vice president for the American Lung Association. “In Hawai‘i, it’s estimated that more than 850 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2019. However, we are making huge strides in our fight against lung cancer and the decrease in lung cancer deaths motivates us to continue our efforts.”

Through its LUNG FORCE initiative, the Lung Association raises awareness about lung cancer in both women and men. Since the inception of the Lung Health Barometer survey, women have become eight percentage points more likely to speak to their doctor about lung cancer (26% in 2017 vs. 18% in 2014).

Unfortunately, most lung cancer cases are still diagnosed in the later stages when treatment is less likely to be curative. People diagnosed at early stages of lung cancer are more than four times more likely to survive five years, but currently only 16% of lung cancer cases are diagnosed early. The Lung Association is working to change that.

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Through the Saved By the Scan campaign, the organization raises awareness of lifesaving low-dose CT scan lung cancer screening. The scan is the only lung cancer screening tool that reduces the mortality rate for lung cancer by detecting the disease before it spreads. Today, there are an estimated 8 million Americans who are at high risk for lung cancer and qualify for screening. If everyone eligible were screened, an estimated 25,000 lives would be saved.

In the last five years, the Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE initiative has raised money and advocated for more lung cancer research funding to help develop new treatments and better methods of early detection. The Lung Association has funded over $14 million in lung cancer research since the launch of LUNG FORCE in 2014.

“Anyone can get lung cancer—the disease doesn’t discriminate,” Hickey said. “It’s wonderful to see that lung cancer deaths have decreased, but there is still so much more work to be done. We encourage everyone to educate themselves and their loved ones about risks, early detection and symptoms.”

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