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Lung cancer rates are dropping but hospitalization rates remain constant

Hospital admissions for lung cancer remained relatively stable—at roughly 150,000 a year between 1995 and 2006—despite a steady decline in the number of Americans diagnosed with the disease, according to data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Admissions have remained constant, in part, because lung cancer patients are surviving longer and undergoing more hospital-related treatments such as chemotherapy and tumor-removal surgery, according to AHRQ experts. Smoking is considered a main cause of lung cancer—the most deadly type of cancer—but the disease can also result from exposure to hazardous substances such as asbestos, radon, pollution, or second-hand smoke, as well as genetic predisposition to the disease.

AHRQ's analysis also found that:

  • The average hospital cost for a lung cancer patient in 2006 was $14,200 (about $1,900 a day). The total cost for all patients was about $2.1 billion.
  • The death rate of hospitalized lung cancer patients was 13 percent—five times higher than the average overall death rate (2.6 percent) for hospitalized patients.
  • Only 2.4 percent of hospitalized lung cancer patients in 2006 were younger than 44. About 63 percent were 65 or older.
  • Hospitalizations for lung cancer were far more common in the South (89 admissions per 100,000 persons) than in the Northeast (25 admissions per 100,000 persons).

For more information, go to Hospital Stays for Lung Cancer, 2006, HCUP Statistical Brief #63 (http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb63.jsp).

The report uses statistics from the 2006 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-Federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.

For information from the U.S. Public Health Service on tobacco cessation, go to: http://www.ahrq.gov/path/tobacco.htm.

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