Report: Michigan Above National Average for Lung Cancer Survival, Treatment

Michigan ranks above the national average in lung cancer survival, screening, and treatment rates, but low in catching the disease early, according to the American Lung Association’s annual State of Lung Cancer Report.
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While Michigan is above the national average in lung cancer survival, screening, and treatment rates, it ranks low in catching the disease early, according to the American Lung Association. // Stock photo

Michigan ranks above the national average in lung cancer survival, screening, and treatment rates, but low in catching the disease early, according to the American Lung Association’s annual State of Lung Cancer Report.

The report examines the toll of lung cancer throughout the nation and outlines steps each state can take to better protect its residents from lung cancer. For the first time, this year’s report explores the lung cancer burden among racial and ethnic groups at the national and state levels.

The third annual report finds that more Americans are surviving the disease. The nationwide five-year lung cancer survival rate of 22.6 percent reflects a 13 percent improvement over the past five years. In Michigan, the survival rate is 25.1 percent. People of color in the state face poorer health outcomes than white residents, and the report finds that Michigan is lagging in lung cancer diagnosis rates among indigenous peoples.

“While we celebrate that more Americans are surviving lung cancer, too many people are being left behind, and the disease still remains the leading cause of cancer deaths,” says Ken Fletcher, advocacy director for the association. “Much more can and must be done in Michigan to prevent the disease and support those facing it. We need to improve our early diagnosis rates in Michigan and ensure that the indigenous peoples’ community is getting the resources needed to survive this deadly disease.”

Lung cancer is the nation’s leading cause of cancer deaths, and it’s estimated that 8,140 Michigan residents will be diagnosed with the disease in 2020.

Part of the reason lung cancer is so deadly is because most cases are diagnosed at a later stage, after the disease has spread. Lung cancer screening is key to catching it early, but only 22.9 percent of lung cancer cases nationally are diagnosed at an early stage. While the simple screening test has been available since 2015, only 8.9 percent of those eligible in Michigan have been screened.

“Lung cancer screening is a powerful tool that save lives,” Fletcher says. “It’s a relatively new test, and we’re only seeing a fraction of those who qualify actually getting screened. We’re pushing for greater awareness of this test to save more lives here in Michigan.”

Incidence refers to the number of new cases of lung cancer. On average, the higher the prevalence of smoking, the more lung cancer cases in a state. The national lung cancer incidence rate is 58.7 people out of 100,000. Michigan ranks 32nd out of 51 in the nation, at a rate of 63.8 people out of 100,000. This rate is about average.

Michigan ranks ninth in the nation for five-year survival rate out of 47 states with available data at 25.1 percent, which is above average.

In Michigan, 21.2 percent of cases are diagnosed at an early stage. This puts the state at 39th in the nation, and the percentage is below the national average of 22.9 percent.

Lung cancer can often be treated with surgery if it is diagnosed at an early stage and has not spread widely. Nationally, 20.6 percent of cases underwent surgery. In Michigan, this percentage is 19 percent, putting it at 26th in the nation, which is below average.

Nationally, about 15.2 percent of cases receive no treatment. In Michigan, this percentage drops to 13.4 percent, which is above average, putting the state at 16th in the nation.

Nationally, 5.7 percent of those who qualify for an annual low-dose CT scan for lung cancer were screened. Michigan ranked 11th with 8.9 percent, making it above average. Screening among those who qualify can reduce the lung cancer death rate by up to 20 percent.

More information on the report is available here.

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