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Why We Built a FORCE to Defeat Lung Cancer

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Did you know that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among both men and women? The startling truth is that the average 5-year survival rate for lung cancer is among the lowest of all types of cancer. Yet when we reached out to women, we found that awareness around lung cancer was extremely low. New treatment options and methods for early detection are desperately and urgently needed to save lives.

Lung cancer is often called the silent killer, and early detection of lung cancer through lung cancer screening is essential to saving lives. This opportunity becomes a challenge when awareness about the disease is so incredibly low. Determined to address this need, the American Lung Association named "defeating lung cancer" a strategic imperative of the organization, and also recognized that we would need a force to enact change. So the American Lung Association launched the LUNG FORCE initiative, which seeks to unite the nation against lung cancer, raising both awareness and critical funding for lung cancer research while helping patients and their loved ones.

Why women?

Over the last 39 years, the rate of new lung cancer cases has approximately doubled among women while decreasing about 30 percent among men. And for those women diagnosed with lung cancer, only one in five will survive five years later. The need for greater awareness, momentum and lifesaving research is clear.

Through LUNG FORCE, we have connected with the communities that we serve to raise awareness about lung cancer, risk factors and screening options. And LUNG FORCE focuses on women not only because lung cancer is increasing among women, but because they also influence more than 80 percent of the healthcare decisions for their loved ones. By educating women, we expand our impact and increase the likelihood that women will make healthy decisions for themselves and for the men, women and children that they love. When we support women, families and communities thrive.

For more than 100 years, the Lung Association has been making investments in promising lung research. Since the launch of LUNG FORCE, we have more than doubled our investment in lung cancer research, with projects including Lung Cancer Discovery Awards, Biomedical Research Grants and the LUNG FORCE Research Innovation Project: Lung Cancer in Women Award as well as a new Interception Dream Team. I'm proud of these investments in promising research, and we need to do more.

The fact remains that more women than ever are dying of lung cancer, and in order to save lives we need to understand why.

Do gender differences impact treatment success? Historically, there have been large gender gaps in scientific research across the board, and this may limit how much the scientific community knows about the differences between the health of men and women. This may lead to a limited understanding of the uniqueness of women's health. While the majority of the lung cancer research we fund focuses on both men and women, this reality has driven us to create new research awards focusing on this gender gap. The Lung Association launched the LUNG FORCE Research Innovation Project: Lung Cancer in Women Award, which examines potential gender differences in lung cancer. And, in partnership with the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, we are also funding lung cancer research through The Momentum Research Award: Defeating Lung Cancer in Women, a two-year award designed to drive understanding of gender differences in lung cancer incidence, pathophysiology, treatment outcomes and prognoses. If we're going to understand the impact of lung cancer on women, we need to support research investigating their particular burden. This new research award will help address this potential gender gap and save lives.

This is powerful. And I've also seen the power of LUNG FORCE—driven by the stories and passion of those women and families facing lung cancer. In partnership with these LUNG FORCE Heroes, we will continue to drive awareness about lung cancer, raise critical funding for promising research and offer support to others facing lung cancer.

Lung cancer might be known as the silent killer, but we will not be silent.

Raise your voice in support of everyone facing lung cancer and for those 224,390 women and men diagnosed this year. Your voice and words are powerful, and can lead to greater awareness about lung cancer and early detection—when more treatment options are available. Your voice can save a life.

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Related Topics: LUNG FORCE, Impact,

  • Harold P. Wimmer
    National President and CEO
    American Lung Association
    Harold P. Wimmer is National President and CEO of the American Lung Association, the nation's oldest voluntary health association, working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease.
    Follow the Lung Association:

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What is LUNG FORCE?

LUNG FORCE unites women and their loved ones across the country to stand together in the fight against lung cancer.

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