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Low lung cancer screening rates in the U.S. are ‘simply unacceptable’

Less than 6 percent of eligible Americans have undergone lung cancer screening, according to the American Lung Association, a situation that is “simply unacceptable,” says Hossein Borghaei, D.O., chief of the division of thoracic medical oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

An estimated 14.2 million Americans meet the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation for lung cancer screening. The task force recommends annual screening with low-dose CT scan for individuals aged 50 to 80 years who have a 20 pack-year smoking history and either currently smoke or quit within the past 15 years.

Only 5.8% of Americans who meet those criteria have undergone lung cancer screening, according to the report. Analyses by state show rates are lowest in California (1%) and Nevada (1.3%) and highest in Massachusetts (16.3%).

The 5-year survival rate for people with lung cancer is 25% nationwide, one of the lowest for any cancer type. However, the 5-year survival rate for people diagnosed with early-stage disease is considerably higher (61%, but only 25.8% of cases are diagnosed at early stages. Nearly half (44%) of lung cancer cases are detected at late stages, and 5-year survival for this group is only 7%.

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