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For much of the month of November the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance has been highlighting thoracic oncologists, causes studies, support groups, and other events associated with Lung Cancer Awareness Month. As the month draws to an end, it is our hope that the awareness we’ve been generating and the message of those we’ve spoken will not simply be lost as we turn the month to December. It is only through a continued commitment to lung cancer treatment and research funding, in December and beyond, that we’ll finally be able to reach the long-awaited cure for this difficult disease.
A National Crisis That's Not Going Away
One needs only to look at the facts to understand the truly global health crisis that lung cancer presents. In the United States alone, lung cancer will be the primary cause of death for 437 people each day.
Perhaps more startling is the truly grave nature of lung cancer of at diagnosis, a grim prognosis reality we at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance are all-too familiar with. According to the Lung Cancer Alliance, only 16% of lung cancers are diagnosed in the early, most curable, stages.
It's time get beyond the stigmas that lung cancer has presented to us since its association with smoking became known. The fact is no one deserves lung cancer. In fact, nearly 60% of all new lung cases are diagnosed in individuals who have never smoked or have quit smoking years ago. Surely tobacco use is a national health crisis in its own right, but we must not abandon anyone suffering from this disease, particularly those who have been diagnosed as a result of second-hand smoke exposure or those who have chosen to quit smoking.
The Funding Gap
Unfortunately, lung cancer research remains the least funded among the four recognized major cancers, receiving much less in dollars than breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. By comparison, for every person to die of breast cancer in 2009, $27,480 was dedicated to breast cancer research. For every person to die of lung cancer in 2009, $1,249 was dedicated to funding for lung cancer research.
There is also a significant correlation between these funding dollars and extension of survival. According to the National Lung Cancer Partnership, the facts show research investment does make a difference. In the early 1970s, 5-year breast cancer survival rates leveled off at about 75%. Today, with government funding annually approaching $750 million directly into research, 5-year survival rates are approximately 90%. Unfortunately, with only $267 million dedicated to lung cancer research annually; 5-year survival rates are much less significant, amounting to only an improvement of 12% to 16% since the early 1970s. We can and should do better.
So, as we turn the calendar from November to December, we at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance hope that we have at least highlighted the important aspects of lung cancer causes, research, and support systems available. We now ask you to help by becoming involved with a local lung cancer organization or by reaching out to your elected officials and urging them to increase investment in the search for a cure. All those suffering from cancer deserve a chance at life. Let's do our part in providing them one!
- Lung Cancer Alliance
- National Lung Cancer Partnership
Image Source: Lung Cancer Alliance
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