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Report finds Iowa has below average survival rates for lung cancer

Ray Reyes
A new report by the American Lung Association has found lung cancer survival rates fall along racial lines.

A new report has found Iowa has scored below the national average in several categories relating to lung cancer rates.

The annual State of Lung Cancer report by the American Lung Association found Iowa ranked below the national average for survival rates, early diagnosis and surgical treatment.

The report found Iowa ranked average — 33rd in the nation — for the rate of new cases, and above average for lack of treatment and screening.

"Iowa is doing a lot in this state to try to increase the rates of people that are screened for lung cancer," said Alyssa DePhillips, the health promotions manager for the American Lung Association.

"Because the sooner people get screened, the sooner they can receive treatment and the more likely that surgery would be a treatment option."

But DePhillips said more could be done to get those screenings to the state’s minority populations, as the report also found lung cancer outcomes are generally worse for communities of color.

She said, for example, Black Iowans are significantly less likely to receive surgical treatment than white Iowans.

"They may decide to opt out of treatment because their diseases progressed far," she said. "But we don't want people to be foregoing treatment because of lack of access to care. Their provider not knowing about cutting edge treatments, or stigma associated with lung cancer and the cost."

DePhillips said she encourages people to ask their doctors about being screened for lung cancer.

Screenings are typically available to those 50 years or older who are current smokers or who have quit within 15 years, she said.

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter