REPORT: Black Americans diagnosed early for lung cancer at lower rates

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FILE – This 1964 photo made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a lung tissue specimen from a patient with adenocarcinoma of the lung. On Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, researchers reported another record one-year decline in the U.S. cancer death rate, a drop they continue to attribute to success against lung cancer. (Dr. Ellis/Emory University, Department of Pathology/CDC via AP)

NEW YORK, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The American Lung Association says its fourth annual “State of Lung Cancer” report found that Black Americans are the least likely to be diagnosed early. The report reveals that Black New Yorkers are 22% less likely to be diagnosed early for treatable lung cancer than White Americans.

The report examines how lung cancer varies by state in new cases, survival, early diagnosis, screening rates, and surgical treatments. The report found disproportionate screening rates among communities of color, which led to a lack of treatment.

New York ranked in the top five states in five-year survival rates, early diagnosis, and surgical treatment. Still, the report indicates that, when diagnosed, people of color face worse outcomes compared to white people who were diagnosed early.

Looking at lung cancer rates among racial and ethnic minority groups nationally and in New York, officials say the five-year survival rate for communities of color is only 20%, and 18% for Black Americans. Meanwhile, the average lung cancer five-year survival rate among all demographics is 23.7%.

“While we celebrate that more Americans are surviving lung cancer, too many people are being left behind, and the disease remains the leading cause of cancer deaths,” said Trevor Summerfield, director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in New York. “Much more can and must be done in New York to prevent the disease and support those facing it, like making sure everyone has access to quality and affordable healthcare and ensuring everyone who is at high risk is screened for lung cancer.”

In March 2021, officials at the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force broadened recommendations for screening to include a wider age range in early screening and more current or former smokers. This new guidance has reportedly caused a dramatic increase in the number of women and Black Americans eligible for lung screening.

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