Illinois has among best lung cancer survival rates in the nation, but room for improvement

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(The Center Square) – A new report finds that Illinois has one of the best lung cancer survival rates in the nation.

Data from the annual “State of Lung Cancer” report from the American Lung Association shows the state ranks tenth when it comes to the five-year survival rate of lung cancer patients, with around 25 percent living past that mark.

“One factor in that is that we are able to diagnose lung cancer earlier, around stage one, and that helps with the prognosis a lot of times,” said Kristina Hamilton, advocacy director with the American Lung Association of Illinois and Iowa.

Digging deeper into the numbers brought both good news and bad news for the state.

“Illinois specifically ranked 35th in lung cancer rates in the country,” Hamilton said, “but there’s a notable outlier in that black lung cancer patients are least likely to receive surgical treatment.”

This is the first time the report has examined the lung cancer data specifically among racial and ethnic groups at the state level. Explanations for the disparity are varied.

“There is evidence for the impact of systemic racism and discrimination and segregation that impact the health status of individuals,” Hamilton said. “We see that reflected in some of the lung cancer outcomes for people of color.”

Officials currently are in the process of updating the Illinois Cancer Plan, a statewide public-private partnership that outlines the cancer priorities for the state.

“We are incorporating some goals around improving screening and with a specific focus on underserved communities,” Hamilton said. “That’s a vehicle that we can use to really improve screening rates.”

The state ranked in the middle of the pack when it came to screening and prevention measures that could catch lung cancer early.

The nationwide five-year lung cancer survival rate is 22 percent, with Illinois’ number slightly higher at 24.9 percent.

Lung cancer is the nation’s leading cause of cancer deaths and nearly 10,000 Illinois residents will be diagnosed with the disease this year alone.

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