LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – The American Lung Association’s 2023 State of Lung Cancer report gives Pennsylvania high marks in key areas.
“Pennsylvania ranks 8th nationally in lung cancer screening, 10th in survival and 7th in treatment,” said Deb Brown, chief mission officer of the American Lung Association.
At the same time, there were areas where Pennsylvania did not rank favorably.
“Pennsylvania performed poorly on radon tests,” Brown said.
To be precise, the eleventh worst in the country. Radon is the second most common cause of lung cancer.
It’s known as the silent killer for good reason.
“Radon is a type of decay process that is triggered by elements found in the soil. “These are naturally occurring products,” said Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, associate professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
“The challenge is that radon can be harmful to the lungs and promote lung cancer through its decay and release over years of exposure,” said Dr. Galiatsatos.
He is concerned about the increase in lung cancer among people who have never smoked.
Like Donna Thompson, who had two separate battles with stage 2 lung cancer.
“I’m still not eligible for screening and I’ve had two lung cancer diagnoses, but I’m not eligible for screening,” Thompson said.
Qualification for screening is based on American Cancer Society guidelines, which recommend annual screenings only for those who currently smoke or have smoked heavily.
There is even more reason for hope.
People of color are far more likely to survive lung cancer today than they were just a few 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 background, Thompson believes there is an important ally you need when you find yourself in a battle with lung cancer.
“You have to have hope mentally,” Thompson said.