Doctor diagnosing lung disease Credit: Chinnapong via Shutterstock

Connecticut patients with lung cancer were more likely to be diagnosed early and survive more than five years after that diagnosis than nearly every other state in the country, according to a Tuesday ranking by the American Lung Association. 

The 2023 “State of Lung Cancer” report found that the disease was diagnosed early in Connecticut in 32.3% of cases. The state’s early diagnosis rate was well above the national average of 27% and second to only Massachusetts at 33.3%.

Connecticut also ranked second in the nation for the survival rates of patients five years after their diagnosis with lung cancer. At 33.1%, the state placed second in five-year survival rates  just below Rhode Island, at 33.3% and far above the national average of 26.6%.

The report represents the association’s sixth annual assessment of lung cancer in the United States. While Connecticut was ranked in the top tier for both early diagnosis and survival in last year’s report, Ruth Canovi, director of advocacy at the American Lung Association, said 2023 showed improvement.

“Thankfully, in Connecticut, the lung cancer survival rate has improved because of increased awareness, improved access to healthcare and cutting-edge research into new treatments for the disease,” Canovi said in a press release. 

Not everything in the report was positive, however. The report continued to identify health disparities related to lung cancer and found that Connecticut residents of Asian or Pacific Islander descent were less likely to be diagnosed early.

Meanwhile, Connecticut ranked near the middle of the pack, 22 in the nation, for new cases of lung cancer, which was found in 55.6 per 100,000 residents. 

“[L]ung cancer is still the leading cause of cancer deaths here in the Constitution State and across the nation, and our recent report makes it clear that we have more work to do to ensure that all communities have equal access to and awareness of early diagnostic tools like screenings,” Canovi said.

The American Lung Association also applauded state policymakers for establishing a lung cancer screening program in the two-year budget adopted this year. The fiscal plan allows the Department of Public Health to promote screening and treatment for people between 50 and 80 years old. The budget asked DPH to establish the program using its existing funding and did not provide dedicated money to support the initiative.