Lung Cancer Awareness Month

It’s that time of year again! Time for my annual appeal on behalf of lung cancer awareness, in memory of my mom and all of the other hundreds of thousands of people who are battling this under-funded, under-publicized, overly deadly disease.

The last picture

The last picture

For those of you who did not know or need a refresher, here are some true and honest facts about lung cancer:

  • Each year in the US, approximately 228,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer and nearly 160,000 die of the disease.¹
  • 1 in 14 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer.¹
  • Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, but approximately 60%-65% of all new lung cancer diagnoses are among people who have never smoked or have already quit smoking. About 50% are former smokers and 10%-15% have never smoked:5
  • Lung cancer takes more lives than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined; it accounts for 27% of all cancer deaths.¹
  • African American males have the highest incidence of lung cancer and the highest death rate.
  • Men’s incidence rates began declining more than 20 years ago, while women’s rates just recently began to decline slightly, after rising for many years.
Lung Cancer in North Carolina
  • In North Carolina, around 8,559 people are diagnosed with lung cancer, and more than 6,186 are expected to die this year.

Did you know?

  • Over the last 30 years, substantial investment has resulted in significant increases in survival of many diseases. For example:
~Breast Cancer
  • US Government research funding: $750 million/year²
  • Results: significant increase in 5-year survival rates:4
    • Early 1970s – 75%
    • Today – 90%
  • US Government research funding: $3 billion/year²
  • Results:
    • AIDS was once a near-immediate death sentence
    • Today – with anti-retroviral drug therapy, the 3-year survival rate is 90%.
 ~Lung Cancer
  • US Government research funding: Only $267 million/year ²³
  • Results: very little change in 5-year survival rates:4
    • Early 1970s – 12%
    • Today – 17%
But there is hope!!!
Over the last five years, there has been an explosion in the scientific understanding of the biology of lung cancer. This information is beginning to be translated into new treatments for the disease, but we can only continue to make progress by funding more research, awareness, education and access programs.
So please, if you are able, support lung cancer awareness in some way during November. One very good organization, particularly for those of us in NC, is the Lung Cancer Initiative of NC. Not only do they support research into lung cancer, they also strive to raise awareness of and provide education regarding lung cancer prevention, screening, and treatment.
If you are interested, you can donate to my personal fundraising page for the Lung Cancer Initiative here.
Because like I say on my LCI page – no one should lose a loved one to lung cancer.
1. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2013. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2013.
2. American Cancer Society, Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2009-2010. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2010
3. Kohler, B, et al. Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2007, Featuring Tumors of the Brain & Other Nervous System. JNCI, 2011. doi:10.1093/jnci/djr077
4. Fast Stats: An interactive tool for access to SEER cancer statistics. Surveillance Research Program, National Cancer Institute. (Accessed on 4-22-2011)
5. Burns DM. Primary Prevention, smoking, and smoking cessation: Implications for future trends in lung cancer prevention. Cancer, 2000. 89:2506-2509. Thun, MJ, et al. Lung Cancer Occurrence in Never-Smokers: An Analysis of 13 Cohorts and 22 Cancer Registry Studies. PLOS Medicine, 2008. 5(9): e185. Doi: 10.1371/journal/pmed.0050185. Satcher, D, Thompson, TG and Kaplan, JP. Women and smoking: a report of the Surgeon General. Nicotine Tob Res, 2002. 4(1): 7-20.? Park et al. 2012:
6. SEER Stat Fact Sheets. Surveillance Research Program, National Cancer Institute.

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