Lung Cancer Patients Face Unfair Stigma
Lung cancer, often referred to as the “Invisible Disease,” is generally
asymptomatic. Early Detection Screening for lung cancer has been a topic of
studies, debates and controversy for over 50 years. The American Cancer
Society has yet to endorse definitive screening guidelines.
Yet, the majority of lung cancer cases remain undetected or misdiagnosed and
advance to an incurable stage. Most late-stage patients will die within one
year and only 15 percent survive five years.
For those already diagnosed, recent changes in medical guidelines are
reducing and denying life-saving scans for the continued monitoring of
metastasis and recurrence. This places many who already battle this disease
at lethally high risk of undetected recurrence.
With Anti-Smoking campaigns at the forefront of “Support and Awareness”
efforts, scant help is offered those devastated by this killer.
The stigma that this cancer killer is a “Smokers Disease” is a double
edged sword — attaching a “blame the victim” mentality to anyone who
has ever smoked and affording non-smokers a false sense of safety. Anyone who
has lungs can get lung cancer.
Lung cancer is the top cancer killer in the U.S., killing more people
annually than breast, colon, liver, kidney, prostate and melanoma cancers
combined. Lung cancer kills twice as many women as breast cancer, yet
receives a fraction of the funding, support and resources afforded other
cancers and major diseases. We all need to question the neglect and
discrimination toward lung cancer.
Up to 80 percent of cases that will be diagnosed this year will be never
smokers or people who quit years ago, with an increasing amount of young
non-smoking women being diagnosed.
Please educate yourselves on this disease and think twice before you ask
“Did you smoke?” Many have never touched a cigarette in their life and
would prefer a kind word over judgement.
Support Lung Cancer Awareness Month in November and please show support for
all the courageous people who battle this disease. Thank you.