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Best & Worst States for Lung Cancer Patients


Every year, lung cancer kills more people in the U.S. than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined — but the combined effects of coronavirus and lung cancer can be disastrous.

COVID-19 cases are expected to surge over the holiday season, and lung cancer patients are especially vulnerable to infection and death from the virus.

That puts a much brighter spotlight on this Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

That’s why America’s leading outdoor services provider and clean-air advocate, LawnStarter, today released the first and most comprehensive report on the Best and Worst States for Lung Cancer Patients.

To help bring awareness to the No. 1 cause of cancer deaths in America, LawnStarter compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 32 key indicators of lung cancer risk, prevalence, prevention, treatment accessibility and treatment affordability.

See the top and bottom states below, followed by some of our key takeaways:

Best States for Lung Cancer Patients

Rank State

1 Massachusetts

2 New York

3 California

4 Utah

5 Vermont

6 District of Columbia

7 Connecticut

8 New Hampshire

9 Minnesota

10 Colorado

Worst States for Lung Cancer Patients

Rank State

42 South Dakota

43 Texas

44 Arkansas

45 South Carolina

46 Tennessee

47 West Virginia

48 Florida

49 Mississippi

50 Wyoming

51 Alabama

Key Takeaways:

The Tobacco Belt: Most U.S. tobacco has been grown in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, collectively known as America’s “Tobacco Belt.” One might imagine, then, that these are the worst-off states, but the results are more mixed. On the negative, these states all have high 5-year death rates, few smoking restrictions and some of the lowest cigarette taxes in the nation.

In the final ranking, however, these states are surprisingly mid-range, bucking their history in part due to higher Medicaid spending and greater access to medical care, such as specialists and surgeries.

Utah Stands Tall: The Beehive State is a unique outlier in our ranking, taking the top spot in both the risk and prevalence categories. Utah has the lowest rates of tobacco use across all age groups, which may explain why it also has the fewest estimated lung cancer-related deaths than any other state.

Why is this the case despite low numbers in treatment access and affordability? The answer may lie in the Mormon Church’s ban on smoking tobacco. Apparently, church can be good for both spiritual and respiratory health.

Texas Hold ’Em: One common factor connects many of the lowest-ranked states: high uninsured rates. In each of the 10 bottom states, at least 10% of the population is without coverage. Worst off is Texas, with 18.4% of the state’s population having no insurance. And with such a large state, that’s an enormous share of residents who are unable to get medical treatment or having to pay expensive out-of-pocket costs. (Lifetime health care costs of lung cancer currently stand at $282,000.)

Why are insurance numbers so low in these states? Eight of those 10 states — including Texas — have opted out of Medicaid expansion.

Our full ranking and analysis -- and some surprising findings -- can be found here: https://www.lawnstarter.com/blog/studies/best-and-worst-states-for-lung-cancer-patients/

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