WHEELING W.Va. (WTRF) — The American Lung Association discovered that West Virginia is the worst state for smoking in the nation and among the worst states for new lung cancer cases and screenings.
Molly Pisciotanno, Director of Advocacy for West Virginia says the state ranked low in several categories.
We were below average and or in the bottom for a few categories including lung cancer screening, we were 37 out of 51 and survivor rates we were 40 out of 45 that were measured. Then for new cases we were unfortunately at the bottom we were 50 and then we were also at the bottom for smoking rates.Molly Pisciotaano, Director of Advocacy for WV and PA
Pisciotaano says there is more that the state can do to change this statistic.
We can continue to strengthen smoke free air laws in order to reduce that exposure, that dangerous exposure to secondhand smoke and we can ensure that both current and former smokers are aware of lung cancer screening.Molly Pisciotaano, Director of Advocacy for WV and PA
They’ve changed the guidelines of the people who can get screened, to hopefully catch any lung cancer in the earliest stages and receive treatment.
Pisciotaano says that this dramatically increased the number of women and black Americans who are considered at high risk for lung cancer.
Dr. Jondavid Pollock with WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital says in his experience the lack of understanding and awareness is a large cause of the problem.
Education is the absolute key to reducing the onset of lung cancer and the death related to it.Dr. Jondavid Pollock, WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital
Pollock says people just ignore it and then one year turns into five years where you did not focus on your health.
Over the last 20-30 years we’ve got much better we’ve got far fewer young people today than ever before but what you have to understand is that there is a lag between when you didn’t smoke and when lung cancer developed.
We usually do not see lung cancer developing in 30-40 years olds. We see it in 60-70 years olds and 50% of the time at least twenty years after they have discontinued their smoking. So, if you tell everyone to stop today and everyone stops today, you’re not going to see a drop in lung cancer rates for ten to twenty years from now.Dr. Jondavid Pollock, WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital
Pollock says the good news is that this statistic can change, and West Virginians can live a healthier life.
You can go to SavedByTheScan.org to find out if you are eligible for lung cancer screening, locate facilities, and learn more.