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A group of people wear protective masks, while one person clutches her chest with an outline of cancerous lungs

If Lung Cancer Were Contagious

A lung cancer friend of mine was diagnosed with the Coronavirus. It hit her hard. She was hospitalized for several days. But you didn’t read about it in the news. Not a peep.

She was diagnosed with the Coronavirus in 2018, two years before the current outbreak. If she had been diagnosed now, in 2020, it would be all over the news.

Hysterical Coronavirus media hype

All this hype over a virus that to date has killed fewer than 500 people worldwide.1 Again, to date, not a single person in the U.S. has died from the coronavirus. In some sort of twisted way, it almost seems as if the media is waiting with bated breath for the first American to die from this disease.

Excuse me?

Worldwide, there are more than 2 million lung cancer cases and 1.76 million deaths each year, according to the World Health Organization.2

Not to be insensitive, but the amount of media hype over this virus borders on hysterical. Meanwhile, every single day we lose more than 400 Americans to lung cancer.

What if people could catch lung cancer?

If lung cancer were contagious, we would see nonstop media coverage. Think about that. Anyone can get lung cancer. We — those of us in this community — are well aware of that fact. But what the public doesn’t realize is that — while it may not be a virus carried through the air — it can strike anyone at any time.

Apparently, the media could care less. That’s not going to get people to watch their news broadcast instilling fear about the virus.

Imagine if the media focused on lung cancer

If only they would cover the real story about lung cancer — not to scare people but to warn them that anyone can get lung cancer. They could warn people who are not considered at high risk to be aware of lung cancer symptoms — even if they never smoked.

Also, the media has the power to advocate for more research funding for lung cancer, the number one cancer killer. One strategically placed news story could do much to persuade Congress to increase lung cancer research funding.

Viruses come and go

I remember similar hype in 2009 when the swine flu was a threat. I worked at a medical facility at the time. There were meetings and plans to be developed.

All the hysteria might lead you to believe that no one could escape the H1N1 virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that flu caused 12,469 deaths in the United States. That’s tragic, granted.

I sensed then, more than a decade ago, that something was out of kilter. Since then, there have been other viruses that have come and gone. I still wonder, though. Will the media ever put lung cancer in a proper perspective, as far as its impact on the lives of Americans?

Acknowledge the dangers of these contagious viruses

It is not my intention to be dismissive of any virus or disease. These viruses can be particularly deadly for people with compromised immune systems, including many lung cancer patients and others. I understand the importance of awareness about these risks. Yet, other viruses and the media hype that accompany them will come and go.

Lung cancer deserves a fair shake

Lung cancer is a David and Goliath story. Lung cancer is like Goliath and researchers are like David. Researchers are kicking some serious lung cancer butt! And patient human-interest stories are heart-wrenching and compelling. These newsworthy stories, frankly, deserve to be told.

Fortunately, my friend who was diagnosed with the Coronavirus survived. More amazing is the fact that she has survived Stage IV lung cancer for several years.

Lung cancer deserves equal treatment. We deserve a fair shake.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Wuahn Coronavirus Outbreak. WorldOMeters. Accessed February 4, 2020.
  2. Cancer. World Health Organization. Accessed on February 4, 2020.


  • Lisa Moran moderator
    2 weeks ago

    You have a point. Odds of getting coronavirus in the US is zero. Odds of getting lung cancer, 1 in 16.

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    2 weeks ago

    I totally get this, and it’s a shame in this country the media has a way of taking matters of interest and putting a spin in their own hands. I think when everyone becomes better informed, they can make the best choices in moving around the hype. Thank you for a great piece!

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