Statistics which take our breath away
With all of the interest in Tuesday’s election, continuing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic and Thanksgiving quickly approaching, it’s sometimes easy to forget about other important issues in our lives.
That’s why it should not be overlooked that November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month.
Lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, is the second most common form of cancer in men and women, with only prostate cancer being more common in men and breast cancer more common in women. Estimates are that 228,820 new cases of lung cancer are expected to be diagnosed this year (116,300 of which will be in men) and, sadly that there will be 135,720 deaths due to lung cancer this year (72,500 of which will be men.)
Those numbers, the Lung Cancer Foundation of America reports, work out to 627 people in the United States being diagnosed with lung cancer every day, or one person every two and a half minutes.
There are numerous risk factors to the disease, the cancer society reports, including smoking, exposure to second-hand smoke, exposure to radon, exposure to asbestos, exposure to other cancer-causing agents in the workplace, air pollution, certain dietary supplements and arsenic in the drinking water.
Awareness is especially critical to residents of the Tri-State Area. According to the American Lung Association, while the national rate of new cases per 100,000 residents is 59.6, West Virginia ranks 50th among all states with a rate of 70.6 new cases per 100,000 residents. Ohio is 39th with a rate of 68.9 new cases and Pennsylvania is 31st with a rate of 64.4.
The five-year survival rate for lung cancer in Ohio is 20 percent –28th among the 45 states that report that data — which is lower than the national rate of 21.7 percent. Pennsylvania is 15th with a survival rate of 22.6 percent and West Virginia is 38th with a survival rate of 18.2 percent.
Numbers also show that while the national rate for lung cancers caught at an early stage is 21.5 percent, the rate in Ohio is 20.4 percent, the rate in Pennsylvania is 21.4 percent and the rate for West Virginia is 22.5 percent.
Tobacco use has been identified as the leading risk factor for lung cancer, and the national rate is 16.4, with Pennsylvania’s rate at 18.7 percent, Ohio’s rate at 21.1 percent and West Virginia’s rate at 26 percent.
Those are sobering numbers, and they offer reasons for area residents to be aware of the dangers and take steps which can help stop the deadly disease.