Q: How did Illinois stack up in the American Lung Association’s new state-by-state look at lung cancer?
A: Illinois had one of the highest survival rates for lung cancer among states — but also a higher incidence rate of lung cancer cases.
Lung cancer is still one of the deadliest cancers, but the survival rate at five years after diagnosis has improved.
Nationally, the survival rate at five years after diagnosis stands at 21.7 percent, compared to 17.2 percent a decade ago, according to the lung association.
Still, about 228,000 new lung cancer cases were projected for this year, with the lowest number of new cases occurring in Utah and the highest number in Kentucky, according to the report released in November.
The main risk for lung cancer remains smoking, but there are other reasons people get this disease — exposure to second-hand smoke, radon gas and air pollution.
Some of what can help make a difference: Radon testing and mitigation, healthy air protections, tobacco tax increases that reduce the smoking rate, smoke-free laws and access to services to help quit smoking.
One of the reasons lung cancer has such a poor survival rate is that it’s often caught in later states, after it’s spread. A low-dose CT scan for people at higher risk for lung cancer has been advised since 2013, but just over 4 percent of those eligible were screened last year, according to the lung association.
Here are some of the findings for Illinois:
The rate of new lung cancer cases: 65 per 100,000 people — the 35th-highest lung cancer incidence rate in the U.S. — with the national rate being 59.6 per 100,000.
Five-year survival rate: 23.8 percent, the eighth best among states.
Cases caught early: 21.8 percent, falling in the average range among states.
CT screening for lung cancer: A bit better than the national average, with 4.4 percent of those eligible being screened.
Lack of treatment: 12.6 percent of cases in the state aren’t treated, compared to 15.4 percent nationally.
Surgery: 21 percent of cases in the state are treated with surgery, compared to 20.6 percent nationally.