Lung Cancer Awareness Month: What You Can Do to Put an End to This Disease
Lung cancer is one of the leading four cancers and kills more people each year than colon, breast, and prostate cancer combined. Still, in spite of the fact that it has been the leading cause of cancer death for women and men in the United States for the last 30 years, it receives the least amount of federal cancer research funds.
One theory is that the stigma surrounding lung cancer translates to less attention and fewer funds allocated to this kind of cancer. Most people believe that lung cancer is the direct result of smoking, and while smoking is a definite risk factor, it is not the only cause of lung cancer. Moreover, the belief that lung cancer is always the result of smoking leads to a lack of empathy and fewer efforts to support lung cancer research.
Because the majority of public health organizations tend to place most of the focus on smoking and quitting smoking as a way to prevent and eradicate lung cancer, there is little focus on research that doesn’t center on tobacco. As a result, the survival rate for lung cancer is still very low. If the focus is moved away from smoking and other risk factors are highlighted, we may be able to reduce the stigma surrounding lung cancer.
Currently, the lack of research on patients with lung cancer who never smoked is hugely problematic. Scientists are trying to learn more about risk factors, but there isn’t enough information yet. More studies are necessary to determine the causes of lung cancer for non-smokers, and these studies require funding. If we can bring more attention to lung cancer and the causes behind it, we can encourage further donations to research that can help people survive this deadly cancer.
It is vital to humanize this disease because the stigma of lung cancer brings with it a variety of preconceived notions about what kinds of people get lung cancer. The fact is, although smokers are at a higher risk, everyone is vulnerable to lung cancer. Because we know so little about why lung cancer develops in non-smokers, it is important to know the signs. Look for frequent respiratory infections or coughs, pain in the chest or ribs, hoarseness or shortness of breath, and fatigue or loss of appetite. If we know what to look for, we can aim for early detection, which, as with all cancers, gives patients the best chance at survival. Smoker or not, no one deserves to get cancer. No one deserves to be stigmatized by their disease.
The best way you can help put an end to lung cancer is through increased awareness and funding for research. Organizations like Padres Pedal the Cause help fund vital scientific research into the causes and cures for lung cancer. Padres Pedal the Cause not only raises vital money for life-saving research, but also brings increased awareness and positive attention to a disease with a low survival rate. Though we can’t all conduct the research necessary to save lives, we can all take part in funding it and supporting families living with lung cancer. You can help put an end to this disease.