DefinitionRate of newly reported cases of lung cancer per 100,000 population.
NumeratorNumber of newly reported cases of lung cancer for a specific time period.
DenominatorMid-year resident population for a specific time period.
Data Interpretation IssuesCancer cases do not include in situ. Mortality rates may vary from source to source. This may be due to using provisional data or using different population databases. The cancer mortality rates provided by the [http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/chronic/pages/cancer/registry.aspx Alaska Cancer Registry] use population estimates provided by the [http://seer.cancer.gov/ Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (SEER)] of the [http://www.cancer.gov/ National Cancer Institute]. In contrast, [http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/VitalStats/Pages/data/default.aspx Alaska Vital Statistics] uses [http://live.laborstats.alaska.gov/pop/index.cfm population estimates] provided by the State Demographer in the [http://laborstats.alaska.gov/ Research and Analysis Section] of the [http://labor.alaska.gov/ Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development].
Why Is This Important?Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in men (after prostate cancer) and in women (after breast cancer) in the U.S. It is estimated that there will be 234,030 new cases of lung cancer and 154,050 deaths in the U.S. during 2018. Most people diagnosed with lung cancer are 65 and older; the average age at the time of diagnosis is about 70. The risk of men developing lung cancer is about 1 in 15; for women the risk is about 1 in 17. Because symptoms often do not appear until the disease is advanced, early detection of this cancer is difficult, and so survival is relatively low.^1^
Cigarette smoking is the most important risk factor for lung cancer, followed by cigar and pipe smoking. There are over 70 carcinogens in cigarette smoke. Smoking accounts for about 80% of lung cancer deaths. Inhaling secondhand smoke on a regular basis will increase a non-smoker's chance of developing lung cancer and is thought to cause about 5% of all lung cancer deaths. Other risk factors for lung cancer include: long-term exposure to radon, workplace exposure to asbestos fibers, exposure to diesel exhaust or outdoor air pollution, radiation therapy to the chest for a previous cancer, high levels of arsenic in drinking water, and a family history of lung cancer.^2^
Incidence rates tell us about the rate at which new cases of a condition occur. As such, the incidence rate of lung cancer is an important indicator of the burden of this type of cancer in Alaska, allowing us to monitor how this burden changes over time and also to compare this burden among sub-populations.[[br]]
1. [http://www.cancer.org/cancer/lungcancer-non-smallcell/detailedguide/non-small-cell-lung-cancer-key-statistics What are the key statistics about lung cancer?] [[br]]
2. [http://www.cancer.org/cancer/lungcancer-non-smallcell/detailedguide/non-small-cell-lung-cancer-risk-factors What are the risk factors for non-small cell lung cancer?]
How Are We Doing?Lung cancer is ranked #2 for the number of cancer incident cases in Alaska over the time period 2011-2015. Lung cancer incidence rates have declined over the decade in both Alaska and the U.S.
In Alaska, lung cancer incidence rates for men are consistently higher than for women, and men are on average about 1.4 times more likely to develop the disease. In 2015, the lung cancer incidence rate for men was 62.3 per 100,000 males, compared to the rate for women of 45.9 per 100,000 females.
Around the state for 1996-2015, the incidence of lung cancer ranged from a high of 128.1 per 100,000 population in North Slope Borough to a low of 32.2 per 100,000 population in Bristol Bay Borough, compared to the statewide rate of 68.9. There was one borough for which a rate was not calculated because it had less than 6 cases.
By race for 1996-2015, Alaska Natives had a much higher incidence rate of lung cancer than any other race at 92.8 per 100,000 population, compared to 66.4 for Whites, 62.4 for Blacks, and 44.9 for Asians/Pacific Islanders.
How Do We Compare With the U.S.?Alaska has had consistently higher rates of lung cancer than the U.S. until 2012, when Alaska rates became consistently lower. In 2015, Alaska's lung cancer incidence rate was 53.5 per 100,000 population compared with the U.S. rate of 58.6 for 2014.