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Lung cancer receives a failing grade when evaluated against the progress made in the prevention, screening and treatment of other cancers.

Early Detection is Critical to the Fight Against Lung Cancer

When diagnosed in the early stages, the 5-year survival rate for lung cancer is 49%. However, the 5-year survival rate for late-stage lung cancer (that has spread to other areas of the body) is a shocking 2 percent. Unfortunately, most lung cancer patients go undiagnosed until the disease has spread outside the lung. This is primarily because there are no effective methods to detect lung cancer in its earlier and more easily treatable stages.

Unlike mammograms for breast cancer (with a 5-year survival rate of 85%) and the PSA test for prostate cancer (with a 5-year survival rate of 99%), there is no approved screening test for lung cancer. This is why most patients diagnosed with lung cancer will die from the disease within one year.


Despite the grim statistics, the federal government does not view the prognosis facing lung cancer victims as a national health priority. Although lung cancer accounts for the majority of cancer deaths each year, the federal government budgets far less money for lung cancer research than for other cancers that are significantly more curable.

In 2005, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimated it spent only $1,708 per lung cancer death compared to $13,947 per breast cancer death, $10,214 per prostate cancer death, and $4,655 per colorectal cancer death. In addition to the NCI, the Department of Defense also funds research for breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers, among other diseases, but it does not fund research into lung cancer, this country’s primary cancer killer.

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