LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – The American Lung Association’s 2023 “State of Lung Cancer” report gives Pennsylvania strong marks in key areas.
“Pennsylvania ranks 8th in the nation for lung cancer screenings, 10th for survival, and 7th for treatment,” Deb Brown, the chief mission officer for the American Lung Association, said.
At the same time, there were areas Pennsylvania didn’t have a favorable ranking.
“Pennsylvania ranked poorly for radon testing,” Brown said.
11th worst in the nation to be exact. Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer.
It’s known as the silent killer for good reason.
“Radon is kind of this decay process made by elements that are found in the ground. These are natural occurring products,” Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, an associate professor for the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said.
“The challenge is as they decay and release radon, radon can be deleterious to the lungs with years of exposure and can set people up for lung cancer,” Dr. Galiatsatos said.
He’s alarmed by the rise in lung cancer in those who have never smoked.
Like Donna Thompson, who’s faced two separate battles with Stage 2 lung cancer.
“I still don’t qualify for a screening and I’ve had two lung cancer diagnoses but I don’t qualify for a screening,” Thompson said.
Qualifying for screening is based on guidelines set by the American Cancer Society, which recommends yearly screenings only for those who currently smoke or used to smoke heavily.
There is more reason for hope.
People of color are now far more likely to survive lung cancer than they were only a couple of years ago.
“The five-year lung cancer survival rate for people of color has increased 17% in the last two years,” Brown said.
Whoever you are and whatever your history, Thompson believes there’s one key ally you’ll need if you end up in a fight with lung cancer.
“You have to mentally have hope,” Thompson said.