Lung Association Report: California Ranks Among Best States for New Lung Cancer Cases, Though Health Disparities Persist

“State of Lung Cancer” report examines toll of lung cancer in California, identifies opportunities to save lives”

SACRAMENTO, CA – (November 16, 2021) – The 2021 “State of Lung Cancer” report shows that people of color who are diagnosed with lung cancer face worse outcomes compared to whites, and that California ranks among best in the nation for new lung cancer diagnoses.

The American Lung Association’s 4th annual report, released today, highlights how the toll of lung cancer varies by state and examines key indicators throughout the U.S. including: new cases, survival, early diagnosis, surgical treatment, lack of treatment and screening rates. This is the second year that the “State of Lung Cancer” report explores the lung cancer burden among racial and ethnic minority groups at the national and state levels.

The report reveals that the lung cancer five-year survival rate increased 14.5% nationally to 23.7% yet remains significantly lower among communities of color. In fact, while the national lung cancer survival rate increased, it remains at only 20% for communities of color and 18% for Black Americans. Here in California, the report found that Black Americans are the least likely group to receive surgical treatment for lung cancer.

“While we celebrate that more Americans are surviving lung cancer, too many people are being left behind, and the disease remains the leading cause of cancer deaths,” said Erica Costa, director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in California. “Much more can and must be done in California to prevent the disease and support those facing the disease.”

The report found that California ranked:

3rd in the nation for lung cancer incidence at 40.6 per 100,000. Incidence refers to the number of new cases of lung cancer in each state. The national lung cancer incidence is 57.7 per 100,000.

18th in the nation for survival at 24.1%. The national average of people alive five years after a lung cancer diagnosis is 23.7%.

28th in the nation for early diagnosis at only 24.1%. Nationally, 24.5% of cases are diagnosed at an early stage when the five-year survival rate is much higher.

50th in the nation for lung cancer screening at just 1%. Lung cancer screening with annual low-dose CT scans for those at high risk can reduce the lung cancer death rate by up to 20%. Nationally, only 5.7% of those at high risk were screened.

15th in the nation for surgery at 21.5%. Lung cancer can often be treated with surgery if it is diagnosed at an early stage and has not spread. Nationally, 20.7% of cases underwent surgery.

46 in the nation for lack of treatment at 27%. Nationally, 21.1% of cases receive no treatment.

In California, Black Americans are least likely to receive surgery as treatment for lung cancer.

While the “State of Lung Cancer” report findings show significant work to be done, there is hope. In March of 2021, the United States Preventive Services Task Force expanded its recommendation for screening to include a larger age range and more current or former smokers. This dramatically increased the number of women and Black Americans who are eligible for lung cancer screening.

The Lung Association encourages everyone to join the effort to end lung cancer. Go to to learn more about lung cancer in your state and sign our petition to increase funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to protect our nation’s health from disease, including lung cancer.

For current and former smokers, there are lifesaving resources available. Find out if you are eligible for lung cancer screening at, and then talk to your doctor about getting screened.

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