DES MOINES — A new report from the American Lung Association shows Iowa has one of the lowest survival rates for lung cancer in country.
The association found 19% of lung cancer patients survived five years after their initial diagnosis. That’s 3.7% worse that the national average.
“Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer of men and women, but it just doesn’t get the same attention as other cancers because other cancers may be more common, but they’re more curable,” said Alyssa DePhillips, a spokeswoman for the American Lung association.
Lung cancer is often diagnosed at later stages of the disease when surgery is not an option.
“That’s usually the best way to get rid of the cancer,” DePhillips said.
The American Lung Association is recommending that Americans over the age of 55 who are current tobacco users or who have quit in the past 15 years get their lungs scanned to check for cancer.
“Iowa has just a little bit higher smoking and tobacco rates than the rest of the national average of the US because Midwestern states have higher tobacco use rates,” DePhillips said. “Rural areas have higher tobacco use rates.”
Iowa’s lung cancer rate is impacted by radon levels, too.
“Iowa has the highest radon levels across the US and radon counts for a little less than 10 percent of lung cancer cases,” DePhillips said. “so 90 percent of lung cancer cases in Iowa are due to smoking or being around second-hand smoke and the the majority of the rest of the cases are from radon.”
Less than one percent of lung cancer cases in Iowa are linked to poor air quality or exposure to pollution. This is the second year the American Lung Association has issued its “State of Cancer” report, comparing available date from Iowa and 44 other states.