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Utah has low lung cancer rates, but failing grade for screenings

Covid Lungs
Posted at 11:12 AM, Nov 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-16 13:42:08-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah has the nation's lowest lung cancer rates, great news considering it's the number one cancer killer of both men and women, but few people in the state receive screening that could save their lives.

A recent lung cancer report says more people are surviving the disease.

"Lung cancer screening really gives us a hope and represents an opportunity to save lives," says JoAnna Strother, Senior Director of Advocacy with American Lung Association, but fewer than two percent of people eligible for screening in Utah receive it, ranking Utah 47th in this category.

TAKE THE AMERICAN LUNG CANCER QUIZ

Lung cancer has many causes; while most associate it with smoking, it's also caused by air pollution, particle pollution, radon, and other causes that affect otherwise healthy people.

"Anyone who has lungs can get lung cancer," says Strother, so non-smokers should be aware that they too are at risk.

“Many healthy people, sometimes they have that cough or a back pain or a shoulder pain that they don’t quite feel is normal. So we’re really encouraging people to have those conversations with your doctor.”

There is some encouraging news; if caught before it spreads, the liklihood of surviving five or more years increases to 59 percent.

But Utah could also do a better job of insurance coverage for lung cancer screening, according to Strother.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and the American Lung Association is encouraging people to take this online quiz to find out if they are eligible for lung cancer screening—it could save lives.