American Lung Association in New York Offers Support to Lung Cancer Patients

November is National Lung Cancer Awareness Month

(November 1, 2011)

This November—National Lung Cancer Awareness Month—the American Lung Association aims to increase public awareness of this deadly disease and encourage action to help prevent and treat it.  Lung cancer is the single leading cancer killer of both men and women in the United States and here in New York State.  While a major health burden, however, lung cancer remains largely overlooked.

 “Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer of both men and women in New York State,” said Irwin Berlin, M.D. Board Chair of the American Lung Association in New York.  Lung cancer affects both smokers and nonsmokers.  Regardless of smoking history, no one deserves lung cancer and that’s the message we need all New Yorkers to hear and embrace.  We need New Yorkers to do what they can to limit their risk and be aware of the resources that are out there to help them should they or a family member face a lung cancer diagnosis.  The more we can raise awareness about lung cancer and gain the public’s support to help fight this disease, the more lives we can save and the more we can improve the quality of life for those patients suffering from this disease.”

Approximately 373,489 Americans are living with lung cancer.  In 2011, more than 221,000 new cases were diagnosed nationally and about 157,000 Americans were expected to die from lung cancer. Each year in New York State about 13,500 New Yorkers are diagnosed with lung cancer and about 9,200 men and women in New York State die of this disease.

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.

 New Yorkers can take the following steps to help mitigate 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. 

The American Lung Association funds nationwide research that focuses on preventing lung cancer, increasing the survival rate and reducing its effects on patients’ quality of life.    In New York State, the Lung Association is funding a project entitled: “Improving Lung Cancer’s Responsiveness to Chemotherapy” at Cornell University in Ithaca.

The Lung Association also advocates for increased lung cancer funding at the National Institutes of Health, especially the National Cancer Institute.  

 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 easy to use 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.

“As someone who has battled lung cancer myself, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of learning everything you can about this disease, learning about the services that are available to help you and making sure that you have a strong support system in place,”  said Denise Hogan, Rockland County Coordinator of the POW’R Against Tobacco.  “The Lung Association’s LungHelpLine is a great place to start.  The counselors are knowledgeable and caring and can alert you to a variety of resources that can help you.”
 
To learn more about lung cancer or to take action, visit http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/lung-cancer/. To download a copy of the American Lung Association in New York’s informational booklet No One Deserves Lung Cancer, Project Lung Cancer, which details the Association’s efforts to fight Lung Cancer, click here.