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Report: MD needs to do more for high-risk lung cancer population

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Monday, November 27, 2023   

The American Lung Association has released its annual State of Lung Cancer report - showing Maryland needs to do more for high-risk patients.

While Maryland scored at or above average on a number of metrics, the report found just under 3% of high-risk patients in the state are getting screened for lung cancer - which is below the national average of 5%.

Among Marylanders who are diagnosed with lung cancer the report shows most are getting treatment, as the state was ranked 7th for surgery and had an above average 5-year survival rate.

Aleks Casper, Maryland director of advocacy with the Lung Association, said more outreach needs to be done around screening.

"The good news is that people who are being diagnosed with lung cancer are living longer," said Casper. "Where we have to do some work is that we're still seeing only a fraction of people who are eligible to be screened are receiving that screening."

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force updated the lung cancer screening guidelines in 2021, expanding them to include a larger age range and more current and former smokers.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of lung cancer, though the smoking rate in Maryland is below the national average.

The second most common cause of lung cancer is radon, an odorless and colorless gas that seeps into homes and buildings from the soil.

In Maryland, over 20% of radon tests results were at or above Environmental Protection Agency action level.

Lung cancer is more curable when detected early. Casper said despite the low screening rate in Maryland, the state is doing a good job of treating lung cancer patients.

"We're above average in making sure that people are getting connected to treatment," said Casper. "You know in Maryland, we're looking at an 11% improvement in our survival rate. So it's about kind of connecting that first piece of screening to all the other components."

Nationally early detection has improved five year survival rates by 22%. You can read the full report at lung.org.





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