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Maine has one of the highest rates of new cases of lung cancer, report finds

Lung Cancer Screening
Jim Cole
FILE - In this June 3, 2010, file photo, Dr. Steven Birnbaum screens a patient for lung cancer in a CT scanner at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center in Nashua, N.H.

Maine has high rates of newly diagnosed lung cancer, according to a new report from the American Lung Association.

The fourth annual "State of Lung Cancer" report, which examines lung cancer rates across the U.S., found that Maine's rate of 72 new cases per 100,000 was significantly higher than the national average of 58.

"We have one of the highest rates of lung cancer screening in the country," said Lance Boucher, assistant vice president for public policy with the Lung Association in Maine. He said better-than-average screening is one positive aspect to the numbers, but he says it's still not nearly enough, given how many cases are likely going undetected.

"Only 12.4% of high risk Mainers are being screened, so we do need to promote screening as much as we can, make individuals aware of this life saving tool," Boucher said.

Maine received average or better-than-average rankings for survival rates, diagnosis and treatment, but Boucher said the state needs to do more to curb tobacco use, which remains the leading cause of lung cancer.

Additionally, he says many Mainers remain unaware of the second leading cause lung cancer, which is naturally occurring radioactive radon gas. He says a low-cost home radon test can be purchased at most hardware stores.