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In honor of national lung cancer awareness month:

When people hear someone has breast cancer or colon cancer, the immediate reaction is always sympathy. However, these same people react very differently to lung cancer. They as “oh did, he smoke?” As a result, lung cancer patients are hesitant to tell their loved ones about having lung cancer because there seems to be blame attached to the diagnosis. This stigma surrounding lung cancer may not be very accurate. The World Health Organization recently declared that the leading cause for lung cancer is actually pollution. In addition, 60% of new lung cancer diagnoses are in those who have either never smoked or quit smoking decades ago.

The main problem this stigma causes, however, is the lack of research funding provided to studying lung cancer causes and therapies. For every person that dies of breast cancer, the government designates $26,000 to breast cancer research which is vastly different compared to the $1,000 the government designates for lung cancer research per death. Lung cancer causes 25% of all cancer deaths, kills twice as many women as breast cancer, and kills three times as many men as prostate cancer.

It is vital for lung cancer research to get money now not only because of the staggering statistics but also because in the last two years, scientists have been very successfully been using immune therapy to fight lung cancer and scientists are just on the verge of really fighting it.

Think About:

1. In what other diseases does stigma prevent people from getting help?
2. How can the stigma surrounding lung cancer be changed?
3. How can lung cancer patients be more effectively supported by the community without promoting tobacco use?

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