Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Survival Rates for Lung Cancer: Increasing but Still Lower in People of Color

By: JNCCN 360 Staff
Posted: Tuesday, December 7, 2021

According to the 4th annual State of Lung Cancer report from the American Lung Association, the 5-year survival rates in lung cancer increased 14.5% nationally to 23.7%. However, the report revealed that the survival rates remain significantly lower among people of color—20% for communities of color and 18% for Black Americans. The report examined the toll of lung cancer state by state and emphasized the need to address health disparities.

Here are some of the national trends in lung cancer survival, early diagnosis, screening, and Medicaid coverage identified in the report:

  • Survival: The national average of people alive 5 years after a lung cancer diagnosis is 23.7%. Connecticut's survival rates were the best at 28.8%, whereas Alabama ranked worst at 18.4%.
  • Early Diagnosis: Nationally, 24% of cases are diagnosed early, when the 5-year survival rate is much higher (60%). Unfortunately, 46% of cases are not caught until a late stage, when the survival rate is 6%. Early diagnosis rates were highest in Massachusetts (30%) and lowest in Hawaii (19%).
  • Lung Cancer Screening: Nationally, just 5.7% of those at high risk for lung cancer underwent annual low-dose CT imaging. The highest screening rate was 17.8% in Massachusetts, whereas it was the lowest at 1.0% in California and Wyoming.
  • Medicaid Coverage: The American Lung Association analyzed lung cancer screening coverage policies in state Medicaid fee-for-service programs to assess the current status of lung cancer screening coverage for the Medicaid population. It found that 40 states’ Medicaid fee-for-service programs cover lung cancer screening, 7 programs do not provide coverage, and 3 states did not have information available on their coverage policy.

For more information about the 2021 State of Lung Cancer report, visit

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