Lung Cancer Alliance Calls Small Drop In Lung Cancer Deaths "Encouraging" But Death Toll Still Enormous

Oct 24, 2012, 16:46 ET from Lung Cancer Alliance

Repeats Call for Strategic Plan of Action and Adoption of the Framework for Safe, Equitable CT Screening for High Risk Public

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) said that the drop in the number of lung cancer deaths in 2011 is encouraging and predicted that wider use of CT screening of those at high risk will accelerate progress in reducing lung cancer mortality and improving treatments for all types of lung cancer.

According to the October issue of the National Vital Statistics Reports (NVSR), a publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, preliminary data for deaths in the United States for 2011 indicate that there were 1,704 fewer deaths from lung cancer in 2011 than in 2010. 

However, with 156,614 deaths in 2011, lung cancer is still the second leading cause of all deaths in the United States and by far the biggest cancer killer, taking more lives each year than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined. 

"The numbers are still devastating but we are starting to make some progress and that can be accelerated if we take advantage of this golden opportunity to integrate best lung cancer screening practices into public health right from the start," said LCA President and CEO Laurie Fenton Ambrose.

"If screening is done right, well and equitably; if we include the collection of data on outcomes so the process of risk assessment and screening can be continuously refined; and if we simultaneously collect biomedical samples for targeted research, we can dramatically reduce lung cancer mortality and avoid the pitfalls that have occurred with other cancer screening methods," she predicted.

To accomplish these goals LCA issued the National Framework for Excellence in Lung Screening and Continuum of Care.

Developed by lung cancer specialists on LCA's medical and scientific advisory board, the Framework lays out the rights of the public to know their risk for lung cancer and the duty of the screening sites to include cessation programs for those still smoking, and to adhere to best practices in the whole process of lung cancer screening and care for those who are diagnosed.

Over 100 sites around the country have agreed and 30 more are in progress. 

Fenton Ambrose said that LCA is continuing to work with professional organizations that support screening and to encourage more private and public insurers to include lung cancer screening for those at high risk as a covered benefit.

Citing recent studies by one Milliman, the nation's leading actuarial firm, diagnosing and treating lung cancer at an early, curable stage could save over 70,000 lives a year, and screening those at high risk with CT scans would cost commercial insurers less than screening for breast, colon or cervical cancers.

Without screening, 70% of lung cancers are diagnosed at late stage when treatment options are limited, expensive and rarely successful.

According to NVSR, cancer continued to inch closer to heart disease as the leading cause of deaths in the United States, with 575,313 cancer deaths in 2011 and 596,339 deaths due to heart disease.

Lung cancer is the second leading cause of death with 156,614 deaths in 2011. After lung cancer the next four leading causes of cancer deaths are:

  • colon cancer: 52,243
  • breast cancer: 41,271
  • pancreatic cancer: 37,371
  • prostate cancer: 27,929

Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA),, is committed to ending injustice and saving lives through an alliance of advocacy, education, and support. LCA provides live, professional support, referral and information services for patients, their loved ones and those at risk for lung cancer; advocates for multiple millions in public health dollars for lung cancer research; and conducts national awareness campaigns.

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Media Contact:
Kay Cofrancesco

SOURCE Lung Cancer Alliance