American Lung Association says rate of lung cancer survival increasing

More people are surviving lung cancer, according to a new report from the American Lung Association.

The association said lung cancer is the most deadly of cancers. However they said over the past five years the survival rate has increased from 22% to 26.6%.

Dr. Nelson Greene is a Pulmonologist at LewisGale and works with those patients suffering from lung cancer.

“It’s a silent disease, you don’t know anything about it until all of a sudden you get sick,” Dr. Greene said.

According to the American Lung Association’s new report, Virginia ranks above average in screening. Greene said catching cancer early is crucial.

“If you’re a smoker and smoked for at least a 20 pack year history which is a pack a day for 20 years or two packs a day for 10 years and 50 years old, you qualify for screening,” Dr. Greene said.

In Virginia, 7.2% of people at high risk were screened. Higher than most states but not near enough according to the American Lung Association.

“We do see a disparity among people of color,” American Lung Association Director of Advocacy Aleks Casper said. “In Virginia, we know that black individuals are 21% less likely to receive surgery as their first course, and 17% less likely to be diagnosed early.”

People in Virginia are diagnosed with lung cancer more frequently than most other states, ranking 16th in the U.S.

“Probably because of tobacco products in the state years ago,” Dr. Greene said. “This area particularly because of coal mining which can contribute to that along with smoking.”

If you think you may qualify for screening you can visit the American Lung Association’s website,

About the Author:

Amy Cockerham joined the 10 News team in January 2023.