Lung Association Highlights Lung Cancer and COPD in the Month of November

(November 1, 2012)

This November—National Lung Cancer and National COPD Awareness Month—the American Lung Association aims to increase public awareness of these deadly diseases and encourages action to help prevent and treat each of them.

Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is the single leading cancer killer of both men and women in the United States. The American Lung Association is working hard to reduce the stigma of this disease; no one deserves lung cancer. While smoking is responsible for 85-90% of lung cancer cases, other causes include radon exposure and industrial exposures to hazardous materials like asbestos and arsenic; even some genetic factors pose a lung cancer risk. Nonsmokers and former smokers are also at risk of lung cancer, making up 15% of lung cancer diagnoses.

In 2012, an estimated 226,160 new cases of lung cancer were expected to be diagnosed, representing almost 14 percent of all cancer diagnoses. Additionally, an estimated 160,340 Americans were expected to die from lung cancer this year, accounting for approximately 28 percent of all cancer deaths. 

Federal funding for lung cancer research falls dramatically behind funding for cancers like breast, colon and prostate; yet the 5-year survival rate for lung cancer is just 15%. A majority of lung cancer patients are diagnosed in Stage 4, often after cancer has metastasized. With increased awareness and funding for research, it is possible to detect lung cancer in the early stages and discover more effective treatments and more targeted therapies.

American Lung Association Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
COPD refers to a large group of lung diseases characterized by obstruction of air flow that interferes with normal breathing. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the most important conditions that compose COPD and they frequently coexist. Each year in the United States, over 120,000 people die from COPD, making it the third leading cause of death.

Nearly 13 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD; it is said that an equal number may have COPD, but have yet to be diagnosed. There is no cure for COPD but there are treatments that can improve a patient's quality of life.

The American Lung Association offers Better Breathers Clubs, support groups designed specifically for COPD patients. Better Breathers Clubs meet regularly and feature educational presentations on a wide range of relevant topics. For a complete list of clubs in the Northeast visit this link.

“Millions of people in the Northeast are diagnosed with lung cancer and COPD, and numerous more family members and loved ones are affected,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “The American Lung Association is committed to reducing the burden of lung disease on all Americans through education, advocacy and research.”


What You Can Do
The following steps can help mitigate the risk of lung cancer and COPD:


Facing a diagnosis of lung cancer or COPD 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 disease as well as smoking cessation counseling.
  • 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 American Lung Association of the Northeast is funding significant research to improve lung health. Our research focuses on preventing lung disease, increasing the survival rate and reducing its effects on patients’ quality of life.

Jeffrey Engelman, M.D, Ph.D. was granted the Lung Cancer Discovery Award to investigate whether we can “teach” lung cancer cells to die on time. He will study a protein named BIM, which governs a process called apoptosis or programmed cell death. Cancers with low BIM received less benefit from the same targeted therapy as patients whose cancers have high levels of BIM. His aim is to determine which patients will derive the greatest benefit from targeted therapies, and to identify alternative treatments that may be more effective for cancers with low BIM. Dr. Engelman is the Director of the Center for Thoracic Cancers at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Cancer Center.

James Bridges, Ph.D. was awarded a Biomedical Research Grant by the Lung Association for his work with a protein called HIF2a. This protein may play a role in the enlargement of smooth muscle layer surrounding the airways, known as airway remodeling, common among chronic lung diseases like COPD and asthma. Dr. Bridges research is aimed at identifying how smooth muscle becomes dysfunctional, and developing targeted treatments.

In addition to supporting our own research program, the American Lung Association aggressively advocates to increase America's investment in life-saving research. We are pushing to increase funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to help find cures for lung cancer, COPD, asthma and all lung diseases.

In 2012-2013 we are providing more than $5 million in funding for approximately 90 research projects to support our life-saving mission. For more info on the American Lung Association’s research program, visit

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