No One Deserves Lung Cancer

(November 9, 2011)

No one deserves to bear the burden of lung cancer.  This devastating disease is the single leading cancer killer of both men and women in the United States, yet it remains largely overlooked.

Approximately 373,489 Americans are living with lung cancer and more than 221,000 new cases were diagnosed in 2011.

This November—National Lung Cancer Awareness Month—the American Lung Association aims to increase public awareness of this disease and encourage action to help prevent and treat it.

“Lung cancer is responsible for nearly 30 percent of all cancer deaths in America—more than any other cancer,” said Norman H. Edelman, M.D., chief medical officer of the American Lung Association. “That startling reality must change. We need all Americans to understand the severity of lung cancer and do what they can to help prevent it and support the fight for a cure.”

Preventative Measures

The causes of lung cancer include cigarette smoke, radon exposure, industrial exposures to hazardous materials like asbestos and arsenic; even some genetic factors pose a lung cancer risk.

Americans can take the following steps to help minimize the risk of lung cancer:

  • If you are a smoker–stop smoking
    Quitting smoking is the single most important thing smokers can do to enhance the length and quality of their lives. The American Lung Association has many programs to help smokers quit for good.
  • If you don't smoke, don't start
    Smoking causes lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and many other illnesses. When smoking is combined with another risk factor, such as radon exposure, the risk of lung cancer is even higher.
  • Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke
    Make your home smoke-free. You will not only protect yourself, but your family too. Learn about your rights to a smoke-free environment at work and in public places.
  • Test your home for radon
    One out of every 15 homes in the U.S. has a radon problem. You can test for radon with inexpensive, easy-to-use test kits sold at hardware stores.
  • Be aware of industrial compounds
    If you are exposed to dust and fumes at work, ask your health and safety advisor about how you are being protected.
  • Help fight pollution
    Contact local officials and work with others in your community to help clean up the air you and your family breathe. 

Supporting Patients

Facing a lung cancer diagnosis is extremely difficult for patients and their loved ones, but the American Lung Association is committed to supporting them by offering the following services and resources:

  • The Lung Helpline (1-800-548-8252) provides one-on-one support from registered nurses and respiratory therapists to callers seeking information about lung cancer as well as smoking cessation counseling.
  • Resources available through the Lung Cancer Clinical Trial Call to Action resource provide personalized education to quickly identify trial options that match each patient’s specific diagnosis, stage, and treatment history. The service aims to help lung cancer patients discuss with their doctor clinical trials that may be appropriate for them.
  • A free-of-charge, online caregiving coordination service called My Fighting for Air Community is a platform to organize support for patients and their loved ones who are affected by acute and chronic lung diseases. The community includes an intuitive group calendar for scheduling tasks such as meals delivery and rides, a platform for securely sharing vital medical, financial, and legal information with designated family members, and customizable sections for posting photos, well wishes, blogs, journals, and messages.

Finding a Cure

The American Lung Association funds research that focuses on preventing lung cancer, increasing the survival rate and reducing its effects on quality of life.  It also advocates for increased lung cancer funding at the National Institutes of Health, especially the National Cancer Institute.

“Lung cancer stands on the precipice of change,” said Dr. Edelman. “It is imperative that we continue developing new and better ways to prevent and treat this disease.”

To learn more about lung cancer or to take action, click here.