Lung cancer — each year, over 160,000 people in the U.S. will lose their lives because of it and almost half of them will be women. This number accounts for more than a quarter of all mortalities related to cancer each year. In fact, lung cancer fatalities outnumber those attributed to breast, colon, and prostate cancers put together. Moreover, the rate of female lung cancer patients succumbing to the disease has been rising, while that of men has been declining.
This information is not given to scare you, but rather to drive home the importance of the 2006 survey done by the U.S. National Lung Cancer Partnership. The main conclusion of the survey? U.S. women are not aware of the extent of the danger that lung cancer poses to their health.
The survey includes data from more than 500 women. The information gained from it goes beyond statistics — it shows just how much most of us don’t know about lung cancer.
So, let’s take a look at some of the startling statistics. Less than half of women (41%) know that lung cancer is the most lethal form of cancer in the U.S. Just 36% know that the disease is a bigger killer than breast cancer. How about the fact that one in every 17 women will develop a lung malignancy at some point? Only 41% know about that.
When it comes to causes, a mere eight percent of females are aware that radon gas exposure is the second biggest cause of lung cancer. (Radon is a radioactive gas that is released from the natural decay of uranium in rocks and soil.) In addition, just a sliver of the female population — four percent — knows that women tend to react better to lung cancer treatment than men do. Finally, around 25% of women believe that there is a test that can detect lung cancer in the early stages; however, this belief is false. No such test exists as of yet, although research on it is in progress.
So, this survey points to another disease lurking in our midst — ignorance. Ignorance is not fatal in and of itself, but it can cloud a person’s awareness to what’s going on with their own body, leading to a delay in seeking diagnosis or treatment, which can be extremely dangerous. As Sir Francis Bacon said, “Knowledge is power.” Obviously women (and men) need to take things into their own hands in order to fight the threat that is lung cancer by seeking out information on the condition.