If I asked you what the number one cancer killer of women is, would you be surprised that it isn’t breast cancer? In 2015, it is estimated that 71,660 women will die of lung cancer2. Compare that to the 2015 estimated breast cancer death rate of 40,290 women1. Though more women are diagnosed with breast cancer, more people die annually of lung cancer than cancer of the colon, breast, and prostate combined2. Lung cancer accounts for 13% of all new cancer diagnoses, with an estimated 105,590 new cases among women in 20152.
When you consider the statistics, you have to wonder why more isn’t done to save lives and prevent new cases of lung cancer. The sad truth is that lung cancer is a stigmatized disease. When a lung cancer patient shares their diagnosis, the common response is, “Did you smoke?” When diagnosed with any other cancer, words of compassion and support are shared. The fact is that smoking and lung cancer are so closely aligned, that it is easy to blame a victim for what’s considered a self-inflicted disease. But did you know that not all lung cancer is caused by smoking, and that non-smokers can develop it as well? In fact, environmental exposure to radon gas is an increases the risk of developing lung cancer5.
Let’s stop blaming the victim and focus on prevention. The fact is that most smokers become addicted to tobacco when they are children. For example, 90% of cigarette smokers first tried smoking by age 184. Knowing the impact that breast cancer foundations have in raising awareness and funds gives me hope for future awareness and research development for lung disease. Perhaps when we stop playing the blame game and focus on eradicating disease, we can stop lung cancer for good.
- American Cancer Society. (2015, June 10). What are the key statistics about breast cancer? http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-key-statistics
- American Cancer Society. (2015, March 4). What are the key statistics about lung cancer? Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/cancer/lungcancer-non-smallcell/detailedguide/non-small-cell-lung-cancer-key-statistics
- American Cancer Society. (2013, February 28). Study links smoking and breast cancer rate. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/cancer/news/study-links-smoking-to-breast-cancer-risk