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New report says lung cancer screening rates are too low in Montana


Experts say potentially lifesaving lung cancer screening rates are too low in Montana.

According to the American Lung Association, only 5% of eligible Montana residents have been screened for the disease. Experts say screening is key to early diagnosis, which saves lives.

The American Lung Association estimates more than 800 Montanans will receive a lung cancer diagnosis this year. More than 350 will die from the disease.

The ALA’s 5th annual State of Lung Cancer report released this week says Montana ranks 34th in the nation for lung cancer screening. Screenings with annual low-dose CT scans for those at high risk can reduce the lung cancer death rate by up to 20%.

People eligible for lung cancer screenings are between 50 and 80 years of age, heavy smokers or those who have quit within the last 15 years.

The report highlights people of color diagnosed with lung cancer face worse outcomes compared to white Americans. That means lower survival rates, less likely to be diagnosed early, less likely to receive surgical treatment and more likely to receive no treatment. In Montana, Indigenous peoples are most likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer.

Montana’s lung cancer survival rate is just below the national average at 24%.

Copyright 2022 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Edward O'Brien is Montana Public Radio's Associate News Director.