The 4 Biggest Misconceptions About Lung Cancer—And Why the Unfair Stigma Has Gone On Too Long

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Lung Cancer Awareness MonthThis is a very important month in my profession as a Registered Respiratory Therapist. November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, but unfortunately, not only does it have to compete with the growing Movember movement, but it follows in the shadow of the big pink juggernaut that is October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Breast cancer garners all the attention and support, yet lung cancer is by far the most common cause of cancer death. The reason? I can sadly say it is because lung cancer remains stigmatized, misjudged and grossly behind other cancers when it comes to fundraising, support and even public compassion.

A poll conducted last year by Lung Cancer Canada found that 39% of people surveyed felt greater sympathy for women with breast cancer than for women with lung cancer—all because a lot of people believe that people with lung cancer did something to deserve it, which sounds ridiculous, but is unfortunately true.

This year, over 225,000 people in the United States will be told they have lung cancer and close to 160,000 people will die from this disease. Approximately one out of every six cancer-related deaths can be attributed to lung cancer in the U.S.

Here in Canada, lung cancer is by far Canada’s top cancer killer, with one in 12 Canadians receiving a lung cancer diagnosis in his or her lifetime. It will kill more than 21,000 Canadians this year, which is more than double the amount of deaths caused by any other cancer. For women, the disease will kill more of us than breast, ovarian, cervical, and uterine cancers combined.

With it being Lung Cancer Awareness Month, I felt I should take the liberty of bringing awareness to some of the more common lung cancer misconceptions.

Fiction: Only Smokers Get Lung Cancer

Fact: If you have lungs, you can get lung cancer. While smoking is a major cause of lung cancer, there are others, which include radiation, asbestos, second-hand smoke, radon, and air pollution.

Fiction: Breast Cancer is the #1 Killer Among Cancers for Women

Fact: More women die from lung cancer every year than any other form of cancer. Could the stigma associated with lung cancer be the reason for the lower levels in research funding? For every woman who dies of breast cancer, more than $26,000 in federal funding is devoted to breast cancer research. But for every woman who dies of lung cancer, just more than $1,000 is invested.

Fiction: Lung Cancer Rates Are On the Decline

Fact: While over the past two decades lung cancer rates decreased among men, the same can’t be said about women.

Fiction: There’s No Point to Quit Smoking Since I Already Have Lung Cancer

Fact: The success rate of surgery can rise by quitting. It can also make treatment more effective, and lower your risk of dying from other causes.

You can all help by spreading the word about the need for lung cancer research to your family, friends, and even colleagues. By eliminating the trend to fault lung cancer patients for their disease, you can help eradicate the stigma. With increased research, more lives will be saved. So please join me this November and talk about lung cancer.

Remember, lung cancer doesn’t discriminate, and neither should you. No one deserves lung cancer! What do you think? Take our poll here.

Source(s) for Today’s Source:
Lung Cancer Canada web site;
Leighl, N., “We have a lung cancer crisis in Canada,” The Toronto Star web site, April 29, 2013;
Lung Cancer Alliance web site;

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