Lung cancer is the deadliest form of cancer, killing more people than breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer combined. November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, created to educate people on the effects of lung cancer and how to prevent this devastating disease.
One-in-16 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that lung cancer is the second most diagnosed cancer in both men and women in the United States. In 2018, the latest year incidence data was published, the U.S. reported more than 215,000 new cases of lung cancer.
The WHA Information Center analyzed all lung cancer diagnosis hospital claims in Wisconsin from April 2018 through June 2021. In this timeframe, the second quarter of 2021 registered the highest visit count for lung cancer at roughly 15,000. Visit counts hit a low during the peak of the COVID-19 lockdown in the second quarter of 2020, with about 11,500 visits.
The age group with the greatest number of lung cancer visits is 66-70, with the median age being 68. Nationally, the median age of a lung cancer diagnosis is 72.
The Wisconsin ZIP code with the greatest number of lung cancer visits was Door County, with roughly 2,000 visits.
Lung cancer rates have been decreasing nationally the past few years, as fewer people smoke cigarettes today than in past and lung cancer treatments have improved. Smoking cigarettes is still the number-one cause of lung cancer, but other tobacco products such as pipes or cigars also have a significant negative impact on the lungs. Other risk factors of lung cancer include family history, breathing in secondhand smoke and being exposed to substances such as radon or asbestos.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for lowering lung cancer risk within communities include:
- Implementing tobacco control programs to help prevent and reduce tobacco use;
- Establishing community preventive services taskforces to help people quit using tobacco, prevent minors from using tobacco and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke; and
- Introducing evidence-based cancer control programs to encourage people to be screened for lung cancer.