With all the health-related issues during the COVID pandemic and the usual torrent of bad news associated with it, some good news is in order. Surprisingly, the good news is about the recent reduction in lung cancer mortality in the U.S. I have often told you that annually lung cancer is responsible for more deaths than breast, prostate and colon cancer combined. Overall, lung cancer is responsible for 25% of all cancer deaths in the U.S.
A recent study has shown that the death rate for lung cancer is declining slightly, both in men and women. Survival with lung cancer is often determined by the stage of disease at the time of diagnosis. This makes early diagnosis extremely important. The analysis of the improvement in survival with lung cancer shows that improved diagnostic efforts and screening programs, along with more advanced diagnostic techniques and procedures, are leading the way for improvement in mortality.
One of the many consequences of the COVID pandemic is the reduced screening procedures for lung cancer. Many high-risk patients, fearful of COVID contact, or economically devastated by the various lockdowns and shutdowns, have delayed or deferred their important cancer screenings, including their annual low dose CT scan of the chest. I know that everyone is going through a difficult time, but a delayed diagnosis of lung cancer, with a higher stage of disease at the time of diagnosis, will seriously impact survival. I encourage everyone to continue with their lung cancer screenings.