According to the American Cancer Society’s latest report, in January, the U.S. cancer death rate has declined more than 2% from 2016 to 2017, which is the largest single-year decline ever recorded.
Seeing a good drop in deaths from lung cancer was called a testament to the country’s efforts in cancer prevention and a reason to feel encouraged by Avram Spira, M.D., Global Head of the Lung Cancer Initiative at Johnson & Johnson,. He also added that there’s still a lot of work to be done when it comes to detecting and treating lung cancer earlier.
Even at times like today, most people with lung cancer are diagnosed at a late stage, when cancer has already spread widely all over the body. The problem is that the chest scans CT tend to have very high false-positive rates—most of the lesions or nodules that the CT scan picks up are not, in fact, lung cancer. This leads to many patients without lung cancer undergoing unnecessary invasive diagnostic procedures and a delay in diagnosis for those who have lung cancer.
The declining lung cancer incidence is driven by the fact that fewer people in this country are smoking. Smoking rates began declining sharply 20 to 30 years ago, and we’re starting to see the effects now. It has helped to decrease lung cancer cases and therefore less lung cancer deaths.
To help drive down smoking rates, even more, the LCI is working together with Johnson & Johnson consumer health to improve the efficacy of smoking cessation. They are working on a digital solution to help influence smokers’ behavior which will help people start to think about quitting. Once they’re ready, it supports them in navigating their journey more effectively. But unfortunately, not smoking is not a guarantee that you won’t develop lung cancer, air pollution can be another major reason.