New research indicates lower income correlates with poorer lung cancer survival rates due to late diagnosis, with disparities influenced by socioeconomic status and systemic racism.

New research has revealed that people with less money tend to have the worst survival rates when it comes to lung cancer. This is mainly because their cancer is often found later, when treatments like radiotherapy and chemotherapy might not work as well. Lung cancer is a huge problem in the United States, where it’s the third most common cancer and the one that causes the most deaths. In just one year, over 220,000 new cases were reported, and nearly 140,000 people died from it.

The study found that where you live and how much money you make can really affect your chances of surviving lung cancer. People in poorer areas are way more likely to smoke, which is a big risk factor for getting lung cancer. The research looked at over a million patients and saw that those with less money and education were more likely to be diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. This was true for different ethnic groups, types of insurance, and healthcare facilities. But, even when Black patients lived in wealthier areas, they still had worse cancer outcomes than white patients in poorer areas. This shows that just having more money doesn’t always lead to better health, especially for Black people, and points to bigger issues like racism affecting healthcare.

Catching lung cancer early and starting treatment right away is super important. The researchers say we need to do more to help everyone get access to things that can stop lung cancer from starting, like help to quit smoking and tests to find cancer early. They also say we need to learn more about why lung cancer is more aggressive in Black people. Experts who didn’t work on the study agree. They say that the fact that Black people and other people of color often live in poorer areas with less education isn’t just by chance – it’s because of long-standing racism. To fix this, they suggest working together with communities to teach both patients and doctors about lung cancer and to make it easier for people to get screened and recognize symptoms early. The findings of this study were shared in the journal Cancer.